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This study evaluated factors that contribute to the increased energy cost of locomotion in youth. The subjects were 321 8-18-year-old youth, similar dispersed by age and sex. Oxygen uptake (VO2) was measured during rest (REE), running at 8 km · h−1 and cycling at 16 km · h−1, using a COSMED K4b2 metabolic system. Developmental stage was obtained via questionnaire. Stature, body mass, and skinfolds (triceps & subscapular) were measured. Both sexes had similar absolute VO2 (mL · min−1) at rest (p = 0.065) and running (p = 0.084), but the males had a higher VO2 during cycling (p = 0.046). There were no sex differences in relative VO2 (mL · kg−1 · min−1) at rest (p = 0.083); however, the males had a higher VO2 than the females during cycling and running (p £ 0.002). Multiple regression, tested for collinearity, found that absolute VO2 during cycling and running was mostly related to fat-free mass (p = 0.0001). Similar analyses for relative VO2 (mL · kg−1 · min−1) during cycling found that fat-free mass, sex, and skinfolds were significant contributors (p ‡ 0.003). During running the relative VO2 was related to skinfolds, fat-free mass, and resting energy expenditure (p < 0.05). Neither age nor developmental stage was a significant contributor. The results indicate that the VO2 of locomotion is most closely associated with fat-free mass. Thus, to compare youth of varying age or pubertal developmental status, fat-free mass should be taken into consideration.
R. McMurray is with the Department of Exercise & Sport Science; J.S. Harrell, S. Deng, and C. Baggett are with the School of Nursing; and S.I. Bangdiwala is with the Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel, NC.