Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health-related physical fitness and weight status in Hong Kong adolescents

Kwok-Kei Mak1, Sai-Yin Ho1*, Wing-Sze Lo1, G Neil Thomas2, Alison M McManus3, Jeffrey R Day4 and Tai-Hing Lam1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

2 Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

3 Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

4 Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:88  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-88

Published: 23 February 2010



This study was designed to investigate the relation between health-related physical fitness and weight status in Hong Kong adolescents.


3,204 students aged 12-18 years participated in the Hong Kong Student Obesity Surveillance (HKSOS) project in 2006-2007. Anthropometric measures (height, weight) and health-related fitness (push-up, sit-up, sit-and-reach, 9-minute run) were assessed. Body mass index (BMI) was computed to classify participants into normal weight, underweight (Grade I, II/III), overweight, and obese groups. The associations of health-related physical fitness with BMI and weight status were examined by partial correlation coefficients and analysis of covariance, respectively.


More boys than girls were overweight or obese (18.0% vs 8.7%), but more girls than boys were underweight (22.3% vs 16.7%). Boys performed significantly (P < 0.001) better in sit-up (38.8 vs 31.6 times/min) and 9-minute run (1632.1 vs 1353.2 m), but poorer in sit-and-reach (27.4 vs 32.2 cm) than girls. All four physical fitness tests were significantly positively correlated with each other in both sexes, and BMI was only weakly correlated with sit up and sit-and-reach tests in boys. Decreasing performance (P for trend < 0.05) was observed from normal weight to overweight and obese for push-up, sit-up, and 9-minute run in both sexes. From normal weight to Grade I and Grade II/III underweight, decreasing performance (P for trend < 0.05) for sit-up and sit-and-reach in both sexes and for push-up in boys was observed.


The relations between BMI and health-related physical fitness in adolescents were non-linear. Overweight/obese and underweight adolescents had poorer performance in push-up and sit-up tests than normal weight adolescents. Different aspects of health-related physical fitness may serve as immediate indicators of potential health risks for underweight and overweight adolescents.