Effects of an afterschool community center physical activity program on fitness and body composition in obese youth
Physical activity (PA) promotes health in obese youth and is an important adjunct to medical weight management. Access to structured fitness programmes for obese, low-income youth is limited and potential benefits of such programmes are poorly understood. We describe an urban afterschool fitness programme for obese youth and participants' changes in fitness and body composition. A case series of 30 youth (age: 11.5 +/- 2.5 years) with BMI >= 95th percentile and physician referral received a 24-wk programme scholarship. The programme, offered 4 times a week for 90-min. session, included aerobic, strength, and self-organised PA. Primary outcomes, measured at baseline (BL) time 1 (4-8 wk) and time 2 (12-16 wk) were BMI, per cent body fat (%BF), fat-free mass (FFM), heart rate during a treadmill test, and muscular strength (one repetition maximum (1RM)) and endurance (reps at 70% of 1RM) on the leg press (LP) and chest press (CP). Average participation was 1.5 +/- 0.6 visits per week for 18.7 +/- 6.5 weeks. Between BL and time 2, LP and CP 1RM and endurance significantly improved (P <0.05). Additionally, there was a significant interaction for % BF with boys losing 5.2% (P > 0.05) while girls lost 0% (> 0.05). Obese youth attending an urban fitness programme for at least three months improved strength and body composition, but average attendance was below planned levels.