Original Research

Obesity and physical fitness indices of children aged 5–12 years living on remote and isolated islands


Panagiotis Koulouvaris1 MD, Assistant Professor

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Charilaos Tsolakis2
PhD, Associate Professor, School of Physical Education and Sport Science *

Yiannis E Tsekouras3 PhD, Scientific Researcher, Attikon Hospital

Olyvia Donti4 PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Physical Education and Sports Science

Panayiotis J Papagelopoulos5 MD, DSc, FACS, Professor and Chairman


1, 5 Department of Orthopedics, Athens University, Medical School, Athens, Greece

2, 4 School of Physical Education and Sports Science, National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

3 Orthopaedic Center of Research and Education PN Soukakos, Attikon Hospital, Athens, Greece

ACCEPTED: 17 January 2018

early abstract:

Background: Obesity has become one of the major health risks in childhood, significantly affecting children’s health and physical fitness. Although the marked increase of obesity in urban areas is well established, evidence is limited in remote and isolated areas with adverse socioeconomic features. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of obesity and its association with physical performance indices in school-age children living in eighteen remote and isolated Greek islands.

Methods: Four hundred sixty-three children (244 boys, and 219 girls), aged 5-12 years underwent a series of physical fitness tests including 20m sprint, standing long jump, 1 kg medicine ball throw, agility t-test and sit and reach test. Age and gender BMI cut-off points were determined according to the World Health Organization (WHO) norms.

Results: The prevalence of obesity was 23.8% and 13.2%, for boys and girls, respectively. A negative BMI main effect was observed for weight bearing activities, such as 20m sprint time (F=6.21, p=.000, η2=.041) and standinglong jump distance (F=11.369, p=.000, η2=.074) while,medicine ball throw, was positively correlated with BMI in children, aged 9-12 years.

Conclusions: The results of this study confirmed previous findings on obesity prevalence in Greece. A negative association was also found between BMI and physical fitness indices and in particular, in weight-bearing activities. It is critical to establish physical education interventions and physical education interventions and physical fitness programs at schools, aiming to increase motivation for physical activity participation.