Original Research

The relationship between physical activity, body fatness and metabolic syndrome in urban South African school teachers: The sympathetic activity and ambulatory blood pressure in Africans study

Tamrin Veldsman, Mariette Swanepoel, Johanna S. Brits, Makama A. Monyeki
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3133 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3133 | © 2022 Tamrin Veldsman, Mariette Swanepoel, Johanna S. Brits, Makama A. Monyeki | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2021 | Published: 30 May 2022

About the author(s)

Tamrin Veldsman, Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation Research Focus Area (PhASRec), Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Mariette Swanepoel, Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation Research Focus Area (PhASRec), Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Johanna S. Brits, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Makama A. Monyeki, Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation Research Focus Area (PhASRec), Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Globally, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MS) is rising because of increased levels of physical inactivity and obesity. In South Africa, information about teachers’ physical activity (PA), body fatness and MS is limited.

Aim: To assess the relationship between PA, body fatness and MS in urban South African teachers.

Setting: The study setting was in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District in the North West province of South Africa.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using secondary data drawn from the sympathetic activity and ambulatory blood pressure in Africans (SABPA) study of 216 teachers (aged 25–65 years). Variables included anthropometry, biochemical measurements, objectively measured PA and lifestyle behaviours.

Results: Twenty-nine percent of the total participants were classified with MS, with 46% in men compared to 13% in women; 33% were sedentary and 67% participated in light activity. A weak significant negative relationship was found between the mean 7-day awake metabolic equivalent of tasks (METs) and triglycerides (r = −0.29; p = 0.02) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (r = −0.25; p = 0.06), activity energy expenditure (r = −0.24; p = 0.06) and PA level (r = −0.23; p = 0.07). After adjusting for age, self-reported smoking and alcohol use or consumption, a weak significant negative relationship between mean 7-day awake METs and triglycerides (r = −0.28; p < 0.01) was observed.

Conclusion: In the teachers with MS, only one MS marker (triglycerides) showed a negative association with PA. Physical activity could therefore be beneficial in the regulation of triglycerides. Participation in regular PA could be beneficial in the regulation of triglycerides. Focused PA interventions in school teachers that advocate the benefits of PA and healthy lifestyle choices to reduce dietary fat intake (and alcohol) are recommended.


Keywords

body fatness; metabolic syndrome; physical activity; SABPA study; teacher

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