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Maturational timing, physical self-perceptions and physical activity in UK Adolescent females: Investigation of a mediated effects model

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posted on 25.06.2020, 08:02 by S Cumming, D Harrington, M Davies, C Edwardson, T Gorely, K Khunti, A Rowlands, T Yates, L Sherar

Background: Advanced (early) biological maturation may be a risk factor for inactivity among adolescent girls. The aim of the present paper was to test the mediational effects of body attractiveness and physical self-worth on the relationship between biological maturity and accelerometer assessed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a large multi-ethnic sample of girls from the Midlands area in the UK (11-14 years).

Methods: Biological maturity (predicting age at peak height velocity (APHV)); self-perceptions of body attractiveness, physical self-worth, and minutes spent in MVPA were assessed in 1062 females aged 11 to 14 years.

Results: Structural equation modeling using maximum likelihood estimation and boot- strapping procedures supported the hypothesized model. Later maturation predicted higher perceptions of body attractiveness (β=.25, p<.001) which, in turn, predicted higher perceptions of physical self-worth (β=.91, p<.001) and, significantly higher MVPA (β=.22, p<.001). Examination of the bootstrap-generated bias-corrected confidence intervals suggested that perceptions of body attractiveness and physical self-worth partially mediated a positive association between predicted APHV and MVPA (β=.05, p<.001).

Conclusions: Greater biological maturity (i.e. early maturity) in adolescent girls is associated with less involvement in MVPA and appears to be partly explained by lower perceptions of body attractiveness and physical self-worth. Physical activity interventions should consider girls perceptions of their pubertal related physiological changes during adolescence, particularly among early maturing girls.


The study which this analysis is based on was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Public Health Research Programme [13/90/30] Professors Davies and Khunti are NIHR Senior Investigators. University of Leicester authors are supported by the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Biomedical Research Unit (2012–2017), the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (2017–2022) and the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands. The Girls Active study was undertaken in collaboration with the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit a UKCRC-registered clinical trials unit in receipt of NIHR CTU support funding and the Youth Sport Trust.



Annals of Human Biology, 2020, 47 - Issue 4: Special issue: Human Biology of Physical Activity, pp. 384-390

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Diabetes Research Centre, Leicester General Hospital


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Taylor & Francis



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