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Physical activity as a preventive measure against overweight, obesity, infections, allergies and cardiovascular disease risk factors in adolescents: AFINOS Study protocol

Oscar L Veiga1*, Sonia Gómez-Martínez2, David Martínez-Gómez12, Ariel Villagra1, María E Calle3, Ascensión Marcos2 and AFINOS Study Group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physical Education, Sport and Human Movement, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Campus de Canto Blanco. Ctra de Colmenar Km 11. E-28049, Madrid, Spain

2 Immunonutrition Research Group, Department of Metabolism and Nutrition, Instituto del Frío-ICTAN, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), C/José Antonio Novais 10, E-28040 Madrid, Spain

3 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Ciudad Universitaria, S/N, E- 28040 Madrid, Spain

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:475  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-475

Published: 19 December 2009



Prior studies addressing the impacts of regular physical activity or sedentary habits on the immune system have been conducted in adults and laboratory settings. Thus, it is practically unknown how a healthy active lifestyle could affect low-grade inflammation processes, infections or allergies in young persons. The AFINOS Study was designed to determine the relationship between the regular physical activity levels of adolescents and overweight, infection, and allergies along with the presence of metabolic and immunological biomarkers of a deteriorated health status. A further objective of the AFINOS Study is to assess the health status and lifestyle habits of an adolescent population in an effort to identify any protective factors that could be used as preventive measures, since many chronic diseases and their associated co-morbidities often persist from adolescence into adulthood.


This study was conducted as three separate sub-studies in three different populations as follows: (a) Study 1 was performed on a population sample of adolescents; (b) Study 2 on the adolescents' parents; and (c) Study 3 on a subset of the adolescents from Study 1. Study 1 assessed health and lifestyle indicators through a questionnaire administered to a representative sample of adolescents from the Madrid Region (n = 2400) aged 13 to 16 years. In Study 2, the parents of the teenagers participating in Study 1 were required to fill out a questionnaire. Finally in Study 3, body composition, physical activity, health-related physical fitness, and blood measurements were determined in a subset (n = 200) of the individuals included in Study 1.


This paper describes the rationale, design, and methodologies used in the AFINOS Study. This multidisciplinary, multicenter study seeks to evaluate several aspects of existing relationships between routine physical activity/sedentary behaviour and several health status markers, specifically those related to the immune system. The results of this cross-sectional study will serve for comparisons with the available data obtained in laboratory settings and in adults. In addition, knowledge regarding the health status and lifestyle habits of Spanish adolescents and their parents will be useful for designing preventive measures.