Research Impact: This study represents the first comprehensive review of multiple components of health-related fitness among a stratified sample of adolescents in the Republic of Ireland. The purpose of this study was twofold; 1) to examine the influence of school-level characteristics on fitness test performance; 2) to compare Irish adolescents’ physical fitness to European norms. Adolescents (n = 1215, girls = 609) from a randomised sample of 20 secondary schools, stratified for gender, location and educational (dis)advantage, completed a series of field-based tests to measure the components of health-related physical fitness. Age-matched comparisons of HRPF levels with European norms were broadly positive for all components, aside from muscular fitness in which European adolescents scored significantly higher. Therefore, interventions aimed at improving the physical fitness and activity levels of Irish youth should include a focus on muscular fitness. Furthermore, the extent of the disparity in fitness levels between participants in designated disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged schools was a finding of particular concern. Future interventions designed to promote healthy lifestyle behaviours among school-going populations should give special consideration to students in designated disadvantaged schools. The provision of additional support funds to promote healthy lifestyle behaviours could represent an efficient model of funding, targeting those who are most in need.
O’Keeffe BT, MacDonncha C, Purtill H, Donnelly AE (2020) Profiling the health-related physical fitness of Irish adolescents: A school-level sociodemographic divide. PLOS ONE 15(6): e0235293. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235293