The relationship of physical fitness, caloric intake and body fat of adults who attended Manitoba RENU clinics in the summer of 1973

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Barrett, Lena Jane
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During the summer of 1973, a total of 898 adults from nine rural Manitoba towns volunteered to participate in a recreation-nutrition project entitled RENU. An assessment was made of their physical fitness, dietary intake and body fat. The percentage of fat in total body weight of 839 of the adults was calculated from skinfold measurements and compared with the RENU standards of "ideal" body composition. Obesity was found to be prevalent as 52.5% of the males and 82.8% of the females were above the "ideal" of 15 +/- 3% and 20 +/- 3% body fat respectively. Only the 419 subjects who had indicated a typical dietary intake and who had maintained a constant weight during the past two months were considered further in the present study. As calculated from their twenty-four-hour dietary recalls, the obese had lower caloric intakes than the non-obese. Further, the obese, relative to the non-obese, do not appear to have an excessive caloric intake; however, their caloric intake may be excessive relative to their energy expenditure. Physical activity was not measured directly, but was assumed to be represented by the level of physical fitness. Using the measure of the maximum oxygen uptake calculated from performance on a bicycle ergometer as compared to the "ideal" values used by RENU, the obese were judged less fit than the non-obese. Since the participants were studied in the static phase of obesity, their present patterns of eating and exercise may be a consequence of obesity rather than the reason for its development. This study also demonstrated the need to develop suitable techniques to assess physical activity in order to determine its relative importance in the etiology of obesity.