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Characterization of the anthropometric profile and physical activity levels of Portuguese adolescents

Biometrics & Biostatistics International Journal
José M. Tallon,1 Saavedra Dias, R,1 António J. Silva,1 Ana Barros,2 Aldo M. Costa3


Introduction: Adolescence is one of the most complex transitions in the life span. It is characterized by changes in body composition, dietary intake, physical activity and sedentary behavior. Anthropometry is of special importance during this period as it allows the monitoring and assessment of the changes in growth and maturation. Additionally, adolescent anthropometry provides indicators of nutritional status and health risk, being a crucial tool to diagnose obesity and to the evolution of caloric needs.
Objective: The objective of the present study was to describe Portuguese adolescents’ anthropometric profile, Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) and physical activity (PA) level.
Methods: The sample included 946 adolescents from 6 Portuguese schools aged 15-23 years. Weight, height and waist circumference were measured. Body Mass Index (BMI), waist-to-height ratio (WHTR) and Resting Metabolic Rate were calculated. Physical activity level was self-reported.
Results: In the present study 6 classes were developed to obtain a typology of the adolescents that would describe their anthropometric profile. Boys were significantly taller, heavier and had a significantly higher RMR than girls (p<0.01). The overall prevalence of overweight/obesity was 16.5% and 5.9%, respectively. Only 38.3% of the participants were engaging in “moderate”, “intense” or “very intense” physical activity and boys were more likely than girls (50.1% versus 29.2%) to engage in these types of physical activity. No significant global association between age and physical activity was found.
Conclusion: These results are of concern due to obesity and physical inactivity health consequences, alongside with the high probability of both, obesity and physical inactivity to track into adulthood. Therefore, effective and evidence-based public health interventions to increase physical activity and prevent obesity during adolescence are needed.


anthropometric profile, physical activity, obesity, adolescents