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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Metabolic risk factors, physical activity and physical fitness in azorean adolescents: a cross-sectional study

Carla Moreira1*, Rute Santos1, José Cazuza de Farias2, Susana Vale1, Paula C Santos13, Luísa Soares-Miranda1, Ana I Marques1 and Jorge Mota1

Author Affiliations

1 Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Portugal

2 Federal University of Paraiba, Physical Education Department, Brazil

3 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health Technology of Porto, IPP, Portugal

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:214  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-214

Published: 6 April 2011



The prevalence of metabolic syndrome has increased over the last few decades in adolescents and has become an important health challenge worldwide. This study analyzed the relationships between metabolic risk factors (MRF) and physical activity (PA) and physical fitness (PF) in a sample of Azorean adolescents.


A cross-sectional school-based study was conducted on 417 adolescents (243 girls) aged 15-18 from the Azorean Islands, Portugal. Height, weight, waist circumference, fasting glucose, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure were measured. A sum of MRF was computed, and adolescents were classified into three groups: no MRF, one MRF and two or more MRF. PA was assessed by a sealed pedometer. PF was assessed using five tests from the Fitnessgram Test Battery. Dietary intake was obtained using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire.


Mean daily steps for girls and boys were 7427 ± 2725 and 7916 ± 3936, respectively. Fifty-nine percent of the adolescents showed at least one MRF and 57.6% were under the healthy zone in the 20 m Shuttle Run Test. Ordinal logistic regression analysis showed that after adjusting for sex, body mass index, socio-economic status and adherence to a Mediterranean diet, adolescents who were in the highest quartile of the pedometer step/counts (≥9423 steps/day) and those who achieved the healthy zone in five tests were less likely to have one or more MRF (OR = 0.56;95%CI:0.33-0.95; OR = 0.55;95%CI:0.31-0.98, respectively).


Daily step counts and PF levels were negatively associated with having one or more MRF among Azorean adolescents. Our findings emphasize the importance of promoting and increasing regular PA and PF to reduce the public health burden of chronic diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle.