Experts of the Department of Medical Physiology of the University of Granada (EFFECTS-262 research group) are leading a national research to measure the level of physical fitness of Spanish teenagers and its connection with their future cardiovascular health. The study, called AVENA, reveals that the physical fitness of one out of five teenagers indicates there is a risk of having cardiovascular diseases in the future. According to researchers, the level of physical fitness in adults, as well as the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors - such as hypercholesterolemy and high blood pressure – are associated to the level of physical fitness during the childhood and adolescence. Hence, experts have examined the physical fitness of almost 3,000 teenagers aged between 13 and 18.5 from Granada, Madrid, Santander, Saragossa and Murcia. In order to carry out such project, researchers testes students to some physical tests of strength, speed, agility, flexibility and aerobic capacity, expressed by the maximum consumption of oxygen. After analysing and processing their details, scientists have come to the conclusion that a fifth part of Spanish teenagers run a future cardiovascular risk, according to their current aerobic capacity. Moreover, this group of students also have a lower performance in the other physical tests. The research project titled ‘Alimentación y Valoración del Estado Nutricional en Adolescentes (AVENA)’ also compares the physical fitness of Spanish teenagers with other 16 similar research projects made in 11 countries. After the review, experts believe that Spanish teenagers as a whole have a lower fitness level than those from countries like Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Japan, and China. The novelty of this project is that reference values have been established in order to correctly evaluate and interpret the level of fitness of any teenager. The experience obtained with this study and others of similar characteristics has resulted in experts from Granada taking part in a European project called HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) testing fitness levels. This research, which started last year and will finish in 2008, will value the nutritional state of European teenagers. In order to do that, researchers have a sample of 3,000 teenagers from ten countries and the collaboration of 25 research groups that enjoy international prestige.
Health, young, teenagers