Self-perceived fatigue in adolescents in relation to body composition and physical outcomes

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Increased self-perceived fatigue (SpF) has already been identified in chronic conditions such as obesity, but it is also a growing problem in school-attending adolescents (±25%). This study tried to link body composition to SpF and physical activity/performance. Additionally, indicators for fatigue were determined.


A total of 452 adolescents were recruited. Body composition was measured and physical activity, physical performance, and SpF were assessed. Based on the total SpF (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory) outcomes, three groups were created: low fatigue (LF) medium fatigue (MF) and high fatigue (HF).


Fat was significantly lower in the LF group compared with MF (P<0,05) and HF (P<0.01). Grip endurance was increased in LF (P<0.05) and MF (P<0.01) compared with HF; similar results were found with the Cooper test. Sport Index was increased in LF compared with MF and HF (P<0.01). Fat and physical activity were related to fatigue (P<0.01). Decreased fatigue resistance, Sport Index and higher fat percentage increased the chance of being extremely fatigued.


This study emphasizes the importance of using fat mass and fat percentage instead of body mass index when screening adolescents. To prevent increased SpF, it is necessary to stimulate youngsters to be physically active and to promote healthy behaviors.

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This research was supported by APB Provinciaal Onderwijs Antwerpen, in particular the board of PIVA. We also thank the commitment of the department of Physical Educational of PIVA for data acquisition, logistics, and technical support.

Author information


  1. Anatomical Research and Clinical Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium

    • Stijn Vantieghem
    • , Jonathan Tresignie
    •  & Steven Provyn
  2. Frailty in Ageing, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium

    • Ivan Bautmans


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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stijn Vantieghem.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study, formal consent is not required.