Interpreting Aerobic Fitness in Youth: The Fallacy of Ratio Scaling

Jo Welsman, Neil Armstrong
2018 Pediatric Exercise Science  
In this paper, we draw on cross-sectional, treadmill-determined, peak oxygen uptake data, collected in our laboratory over a 20-year period, to examine whether traditional per body mass (ratio) scaling appropriately controls for body size differences in youth. From an examination of the work of pioneering scientists and the earliest studies of peak oxygen uptake, we show how ratio scaling appears to have no sound scientific or statistical rationale. Using simple methods based on correlation and
more » ... regression, we demonstrate that the statistical relationships, which are assumed in ratio scaling, are not met in groups of similar aged young people. We also demonstrate how sample size and composition can influence relationships between body mass and peak oxygen uptake and show that mass exponents derived from log-linear regression effectively remove the effect of body mass. Indiscriminate use of ratio scaling to interpret young people's fitness, to raise "Clinical Red Flags", and to assess clinical populations concerns us greatly, as recommendations and conclusions based upon this method are likely to be spurious. We urge those involved with investigating youth fitness to reconsider how data are routinely scaled for body size.
doi:10.1123/pes.2018-0141 pmid:30332906 fatcat:t6itpqis3rbb5g2cgrg7pohmyi