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Tim Olds and Jim Dollman

The aim of this study was to determine whether changes in fitness performance could be explained by changes in body fatness. Two hundred seventy-nine 10- to 12-year-old children were tested in 1985 as part of a national survey. They were matched for age, sex, body-mass index, and triceps skin-fold thickness with 279 children from a 1997 survey. Average speeds on the 1.6 km walk/run test were compared. Children from the 1997 survey performed significantly worse than their matched peers from the 1985 survey. The decline in performance was evident for boys, girls, and all children. Matching for fatness reduced performance differences by about 61% in boys, and 37% in girls. Declines in fitness performance in this population have not been entirely due to increases in fatness.

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Jim Dollman and Kate Ridley


Evidence suggests that a substantial proportion of children meet guidelines for sufficient physical activity, but also exceed TV guidelines. Health-related consequences of this combination are unknown.


843 children, (age 10-11 y), were surveyed for health-related fitness [endurance performance (20 m MST), skinfolds, waist girth], daily TV and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Children were grouped using daily TV (≤ 120 min) and MVPA (≥ 60 min) guidelines: hiTV-hiMVPA/“technoactives”’; hiTV-loMVPA/“screenies”; and loTV-hiMVPA/“sporties.” Groups were compared on health-related fitness measures.


There was a trend (P = 0.07) towards higher girls’ skinfolds among “screenies” than “sporties.” Boys’ waist girths were higher among “technoactives” than “sporties” (P = 0.008). Male “technoactives” outperformed “screenies” on the 20 m MST (P = 0.03). Female “sporties” (P = 0.004) and “technoactives” (P = 0.0002) outperformed “screenies” on the 20 m MST.


“Technoactives” were no different than “sporties” on endurance fitness but exhibited less favorable fat distribution among boys. Overall, “screenies” exhibited the least favorable health profiles.

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Kate Ridley, Jim Dollman and Tim Olds

The aim was to develop and trial a computer delivered multimedia 1-day physical activity questionnaire (CDPAQ) and to compare this with an equivalent hard copy version (HC). Thirty male and female subjects (11.96 ± 0.53 years) were used to assess the validity of the questionnaires by comparing Caltrac counts and heart rate (HR) data with physical activity recalls. Pearson product-moment correlations between the CDPAQ and HR and Caltrac counts ranged from r = 0.36 to 0.63 (p < .05). For the HC, correlations ranged from r = 0.25 to 0.48 (p < .05). While the CDPAQ displayed consistently higher validity correlations, the differences failed to reach statistical significance. Both questionnaires demonstrated high test-retest reliability (r = 0.98, p = .0001). The multimedia features of the CDPAQ may assist children in remembering and characterizing physical activity. The data processing features of the CDPAQ also provide considerable time-saving benefits.

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Jim Dollman, Kevin Norton and Graeme Tucker

The aim of this study was to compare urban and rural South Australian primary schoolchildren on measures of anthropometry, fitness, and environmental mediators of physical activity. The sample was comprised of 445 urban and 205 rural boys and 423 urban and 158 rural girls, all age 10–11 yrs at the time of testing. After controlling for socioeconomic status and ethnicity, rural girls and boys were faster over 1.6 k than their urban counterparts while rural girls were also faster over 50 m. Rural residence independently predicted participation in organized activity, increasing involvement in club sport, and decreasing involvement in school sport. Rural children reported a greater likelihood of participating in two or more physical education classes per week. It is evident that urban and rural South Australia differ in ways which impact on fitness and physical activity patterns of upper primary age children.

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Jim Dollman, Tim Olds, Kevin Norton and David Stuart

There is evidence that fitness has been declining and fatness increasing in Australian schoolchildren over the last generation. This study reproduced the methods of a national survey of Australian schoolchildren conducted in 1985. Anthropometric and performance tests were administered to 1,463 10- and ll-year-old South Australians. Compared to the 1985 sample, the 1997 children were heavier (by 1.4−2.9 kg), showed greater weight for height (by 0.13−0.30 kg · m−2.85), and were slower over 1.6 km (by 38−48.5 s). Furthermore, the distribution of values was markedly more skewed in the 1997 data. While there was little difference between the fittest and leanest quartiles in 1997 and their 1985 counterparts, the least fit and fattest quartiles were markedly worse in 1997. This suggests that the decline in fitness of Australian schoolchildren is not homogeneous and that interventions should target groups where the decline is most marked.