n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Body fat, body mass index in black South African adolescents after a physical activity intervention programme : PLAY study : exercise science

Volume 14, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


The purpose of this study was to firstly determine the effect of a physical activity (PA) intervention on body composition (BC) in black South African adolescents in the North West Province. Secondly, to determine what body composition variables will best describe the body composition changes. A total of 280 black adolescents (113 boys, 167 girls), aged 13-18 years from two schools were tested. A PA intervention programme was followed for 19 weeks in the intervention school, but not in the reference school. BC i.e. waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat (%BF) and skin folds were measured at baseline and end. Participants of the intervention school were divided into two groups according to their attendance of the intervention. WHR decreased in both genders in the high PA attendance group (p<0.05). Boys showed a higher decrease in %BF than girls, although there were no significant decreases in body mass index (BMI). PA improved the body composition of the high attendance groups, especially for boys. It is recommended that specific body composition characteristics i.e. skin folds, %BF, waist and height rather than BMI alone, should be measured during puberty, keeping growth changes with increasing lean body mass in mind.

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