Dr Kevin Finn, PhD

University of Northern Iowa, Fitnessgram® consultant
Overview and Design of the Hungarian National Fitness Study
18 September 2014, 11:00 – 12:20

The Hungarian School Sport Federation (HSSF) established a partnership with the Cooper Institute (CI) to develop a new fitness battery for use in Hungarian schools. The project included a comprehensive research study that evaluated the utility and feasibility of collecting field based measures of physical fitness in youth. The research component included field-based data collection on a large representative sample and a more detailed laboratory evaluation on a subsample of participants to test associations with health outcomes. This was designed to determine if the FITNESSGRAM® standards would apply to this sample of Hungarian youth. This presentation provides an overview of the design considerations used in the study and the results of a detailed quality control evaluation of the testing protocols.

The field-based data collection provided representative data from a large sample of youth across the country. A two stage stratified random sampling method was used to first recruit a sample of 53 schools from seven regions of Hungary, then randomly select students from these schools to participate in field based fitness evaluation. A total of 2602 schoolchildren between the ages 11 and 19 years (grades 5-12.) completed a comprehensive battery of established fitness assessments. The battery included established measures from the FITNESSGRAM® protocol (e.g. PACER, pushups, curl ups, modified sit-and-reach, trunk lift), body size, a body fat estimate from bioelectrical impedance, as well as additional items common in Hungarian schools and European fitness projects (long jump, hand grip).
The laboratory-based data collection involved a subsample of 514 youth that were randomly selected from the field-testing sample. Data were collected in a standardized method in five regional laboratories. The laboratory tested was used to establish validity for the field measures and to evaluate the subjects for risk of metabolic syndrome (blood lipids, blood pressure, and adiposity). All testing sites conducted measures in a similar fashion using teams of examiners experienced in testing and trained by the HSSF using manuals and team leaders.
The quality control plan evaluated these procedures using visitations during the testing phases of the study. A CI consultant observed five field-testing teams and four laboratories during a typical testing period. The results showed good fidelity in the procedures. There was some variance in the measures of body fat either due to equipment differences or examiner techniques between laboratories. However measures of aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and body size had high levels of inter-team consistency. The findings from these actions resulted in confidence in the data was of high quality, a need to use body mass index as the health-related fitness measure for body composition, and to recognize the need to describe regional differences in the distribution of fitness in Hungary.