TOPIC: and Exercise. PURPOSE: To examine the youth

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TOPIC: Cross-Cultural Comparison of Physical Fitness
SUBTOPIC: The Singapore Youth Coronary Risk and Physical Activity Study
SOURCE: Schmidt, G.J., Walkuski, J.J., and Stensel, D.J. (1998) The Singapore Youth Coronary Risk and Physical Activity Study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

PURPOSE: To examine the youth at coronary risk in Singapore because of a lack of physical activity.

A cross-sectional study of 12 schools, one primary and one secondary, revealed the coronary risk of youths in Singapore. These studies were taken from each of the six geographical regions of Singapore. Children enter Primary School at approximately age six, and secondary school at approximately age twelve. To get a more evenly distributed age and gender sample, four additional schools were also added. The ethnic groups of the entire group consisted of the following: 1293 Chinese (81.9%), 137 Malay (8.7%), 84 Indian (5.3%), and 64 other (4.1%).
One of the first studies was to have 24 students wear monitors which recorded heart rate. They had to wear them for 24 hours three days a week and for 14 hours two other days of the week. The conclusion from this study was that school children were moderately accurate in documenting their individual activities. The recordings also showed that when children participated in self-disclosed activities, they had higher recorded heart rates. A questionnaire was developed from this study and was comprised into three sections. These sections were, the participants assessed their current level of physical activity using the following categorizations: 1) inactive, 2) relatively inactive, 3) light physical activity, 4) moderate physical activity, and 5) vigorous physical activity. The second section related to the participant’s level of physical activity over the previous 14 days. The third section asked the participants to document the number of specific annual athletic events. If the students answer to annual sports participation was not equal to the exact number of sport events stated, the student’s questionnaire was considered invalid. A total of 8.9% were discarded in relation to this. The survey was overall considered to be reliable.
A week of school in Singapore consisted of five days and Saturday morning. On each Saturday morning, the schools doing this study would complete the Physical Activity and Exercise Questionnaire. The students underwent a physical assessment of blood pressure, height, and weight. They were assessed for body composition using a skinfold caliper, tape measure, and bone vernier. They then had a blood sample taken for analysis of their blood’s chemistry. This occurred after the written completion of background information.

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Here are some of the results of these tests. As you may recall, height was recorded.Height was greater for each age group until boys reached the age of 15, and girls reached the age of 14. Weight also kept increasing until age 16 for boys and age 14. This demonstrates that the students had basically reached the end of their growth spurts. As for body fat readings, boys body fat percentage was higher from age 6 to 9, then stayed consistent up to about age 14, then had lower body fat readings after the age of 15. For girls, body fat was relatively the same for girls 6 to 12. Greater body fat was recorded between ages 12 and 15 and about the same body fat readings thereafter. Body fat corresponded with boys and girls to how much physical activity they participated in.
As for the physical activity and exercise questionnaire, boys were generally more vigorously active than girls. Furthermore, boys were more physically active than were girls at each age group from age 10 to 17. However, girls documented that they were active in annual sports at age 13 more than boys were. However, afterwards, boys annual participation in competitive sports was higher than that of the girls. As for the blood tests, no discrete differences were noted between the genders nor between different age groups.
Although the article seemed difficult to follow at times, there was some very good information in it. There were a bountiful number of charts in the article which helped to understand the material that was not very well explained. After reading the title I thought that the youth in Singapore were under risk of coronary problems. After reading the article, you discovered that there were no students with an overly dangerous blood pressure level. I think it would be nice to do studies like this in the U.S. I know that there are many overweight teens and need to get on an exercise and diet plan. Teenagers usually don’t have high blood pressure, granted there are teens in some cases that do. The tests done in Singapore were mainly to try and detect things that would later on in life be a health problem. There are probably kids in the U.S. that think that they are healthy but they are not. If tests could be done to prove that they weren’t, maybe they would change their unhealthy lifestyle.

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