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One-year surveillance of body mass index and cardiorespiratory fitness in UK primary school children in North West England and the impact of school deprivation level
  1. Steven Mann1,2,
  2. Matthew Wade1,3,
  3. Michelle Jones4,
  4. Gavin Sandercock5,
  5. Chris Beedie6,
  6. James Steele1,4
  1. 1 Research Institute, ukactive, London, UK
  2. 2 Centre for Applied Biological and Exercise Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, UK
  3. 3 School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Mary’s University, London, UK
  4. 4 School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences, Southampton Solent University, Southampton, UK
  5. 5 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
  6. 6 School of Human and Life Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr James Steele, Research Institute, ukactive, London WC1R 4HE, UK; james.steele{at}


Objectives Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is independently associated with health and academic attainment in childhood and adolescence. Yet overweight/obesity remains the focus in public health policy. Surveillance of body mass index (BMI) and CRF considering school deprivation levels is limited. Therefore, we examined this in English primary schools.

Methods Participants (n=409) were students (9–10 years) from 13 schools. BMI and CRF (20 m shuttle run) were measured at three time points across the academic year and a fourth after summer recess.

Results BMI z-scores significantly decreased (p=0.015) from autumn (z=0.336 (95% CI 0.212 to 0.460)) to spring (z=0.252 (95% CI 0.132 to 0.371)), and then significantly increased (p=0.010) to summer (z=0.327 (95% CI 0.207 to 0.447)). CRF significantly increased (p<0.001) from autumn (z=0.091 (95% CI −0.014 to 0.196)) to spring (z=0.492 (95% CI 0.367 to 0.616)), no change (p=0.308) into summer (z=0.411 (95% CI 0.294 to 0.528)) and a significant decrease (p<0.001) into the following autumn term (z=0.125 (95% CI 0.021 to 0.230)). BMI was unaffected by deprivation; however, pupils from the most deprived areas saw significantly greater reductions in CRF compared with pupils from affluent areas. No time, or deprivation level, by sex interactions were found.

Conclusion Significant reductions in children’s CRF occurred over the summer recess and were greater among children from schools in the most deprived areas. This may help inform future research into interventions targeting physical activity of schoolchildren, particularly over the summer recess.

  • physical fitness
  • sport
  • obesity

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  • Funding This study was funded by Premier Sport.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Institution ethics was granted for this study by the ethics committee at Aberystwyth University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Original data are available in CSV file format upon request from the corresponding author.