Implications of physical activity across the lifespan in Australia: Incidence of obesity in football codes at the World Masters Games (WMG)

Joe Walsh, Mike Climstein, Ian Heazlewood, Stephen Burke, Kent Adams, Mark de Beliso, Jyrki Kettunen

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


    Introduction: Growing evidence suggests exercise across the lifespan improves health and decreases the incidence of various diseases and disorders. Masters athletes may display an age related increase to the range of pathologiespresent in this population as well as physiological changes due to the aging process. There are therefore possibilities of reduced physical activity levels, reduced metabolism andthus elevated BMI in this under-investigated population. The hypothesis of this study was due to increased physical activity, there would be lower obesity as determined by BMI (≥30)in football code athletes at the Sydney WMG as compared to the Australian population.

    Methodology: Electronic invitations to an online demographics survey were sent to Sydney WMG athletes who provided a valid email address. BMI was derived using the participants’ heights and body masses.

    Results: The Sydney WMG featured 28,089 competitors representing 95 countries and competing in competing in 28 sports. Of the athletes representing Australia and competingin one of the three football codes, a total of 535 masters athletes completed the online survey tool. Of the respondents of this sub-sample, 362 (67.7%) indicated that they were registered for soccer, 61 (11.4%) rugby union and 114(21.3%) touch football. Two of the soccer masters athletes, included in the study also competed in touch football. 344 (64%) of the participants were male, whilst 191 (36%) werefemale. The ages ranged from 31 to 72 years with a mean of 47.4 years. 50 (14.5%) males and 13 (7.3%) females had a BMI ≥ 30, indicating that obesity was a health risk factor for 11.8% of the sample. Overall, our results indicate significantly (χ2 = 36.9, p < 0.001) reduced obesity in the athletes compared to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey figures. Only 0.6% of the sub-sample wereunderweight, which is significantly (χ2 = 5.5, p < 0.05) less than the corresponding proportion in ABS data.

    Discussion: BMI profile for Sydney WMG athletes shows significant differences in comparison to ABS NHS figures, though causation must also be considered. Namely does WMG football comparatively reduced BMI plus lower associated health risks and do individuals with lower BMI’s preferentially participate in masters sport.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e81-e82
    Number of pages2
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
    Event2011 Australian Conference of Science and Medicine in Sport: Optimising health and fitness–Participation, prevention and performance -
    Duration: 19 Oct 201122 Oct 2011


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