Anthropometric influence on physical fitness among preschool children: gender-specific linear and curvilinear regression models
There is evident lack of studies which investigated morphological influence on physical fitness (PF) among preschool children. The aim of this study was to (1) calculate and interpret linear and nonlinear relationships between simple anthropometric predictors and PF criteria among preschoolers of both genders, and (2) to find critical values of the anthropometric predictors which should be recognized as the breakpoint of the negative influence on the PF. The sample of subjects consisted of 413 preschoolers aged 4 to 6 (mean age, 5.08 years; 176 girls and 237 boys), from Rijeka, Croatia. The anthropometric variables included body height (BH), body weight (BW), sum of triceps and subscapular skinfold (SUMSF), and calculated BMI (BMI = BW (kg)/ BH (m)2). The PF was screened throughout testing of flexibility, repetitive strength, explosive strength, and agility. Linear and nonlinear (general quadratic model y = a + bx + cx2) regressions were calculated and interpreted simultaneously. BH and BW are far better predictors of the physical fitness status than BMI and SUMSF. In all calculated regressions excluding flexibility criterion, linear and nonlinear prediction of the PF throughout BH and BW reached statistical significance, indicating influence of the advancement in maturity status on PF variables Differences between linear and nonlinear regressions are smaller in males than in females. There are some indices that the age of 4 to 6 years is a critical period in the prevention of obesity, mostly because the extensively studied and proven negative influence of overweight and adiposity on PF tests is not yet evident. In some cases we have found evident regression breakpoints (approximately 25 kg in boys), which should be interpreted as critical values of the anthropometric measures for the studied sample of subjects.