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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The efficacy of the PACER versus the modified PACER test for assessing aerobic fitness in overweight children

item Graham, Marilynn
item Bush, Jill
item Olvera, Norma
item Mcleod, Jessica
item Abuamer, Diana
item Puyau, Maurice
item Butte, Nancy

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2008
Publication Date: 10/1/2008
Citation: Graham, M., Bush, J., Olvera, N., McLeod, J., Abuamer, D., Puyau, M., Butte, N. 2008. The efficacy of the PACER versus the modified PACER test for assessing aerobic fitness in overweight children [abstract]. Obesity. 16:523-P(Suppl. 1).

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Overweight status is negatively related to health in children. Achieving adequate cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) may reduce the health problems associated with pediatric overweight. It is important to accurately measure CRF. There is limited research concerning the validity of existing CRF field tests for overweight children specifically. Thus, the primary purpose of this study was to determine the appropriateness of the FITNESSGRAM PACER for assessing CRF in overweight children. A secondary purpose was to assess the relative efficacy of a modified PACER test in both overweight and normal-weight children. Thirty-nine overweight (>=95th BMI percentile) and sixteen normal-weight <=85th BMI percentile) Hispanic children (age 7-12 yrs) performed the PACER and modified PACER tests. Primary study outcomes included number of test laps performed, test duration in minutes, and exercise heart rate (HR) response for each test. 2x2 repeated measures ANOVA was employed to assess differences in primary outcomes between tests and between groups with alpha set at 0.05. Performance scores were significantly lower for overweight children on both tests compared with normal-weight controls (PACER and modified PACER laps: overweight: 11.5 +/- 4.5 & 19.2 +/- 4.0; normal-weight: 23.9 +/- 10.4 & 31.8 +/- 9.9; PACER and modified PACER duration in minutes: overweight: 1.6 +/- 0.6 & 3.6 +/- 0.6; normal-weight 3.1 +/- 1.3 & 5.3 +/- 1.2). Performance scores were significantly greater for both groups on the modified PACER versus the PACER. Exercise HR response was significantly different between tests. For both groups, HR during the first 30 seconds of the PACER was above the anaerobic threshold for both groups for the PACER, but not for the modified PACER (overweight: 187 & 138 bpm; normal-weight 187 & 128 bpm for PACER and modified PACER, respectively). There was no difference in peak HR between tests for either group (overweight: 199 & 196 bpm; normal-weight 203 & 203 bpm for PACER and modified PACER, respectively). The short duration and elevated starting HR observed on the PACER test suggest the starting speed is too high and does not test CRF. The modified PACER appears to be a viable alternative for assessing CRF in both overweight and normal-weight children.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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