We intend to evaluate the maturational and morphological variability of young athletes, of two different sports (gymnastics and soccer), and the influence of the frequency of food ingestion and daily physical activity characteristics on their level of maturation.


The sample of our study was composed by 107 athletes of both sexes, 70 Soccer players and 37 Artistic Gymnasts. The soccer players and gymnasts had a stature of 167.9 and 142.9 cm, a body mass of 59.9 and 34.6 kg, a bone age of 14.7 and 10.6 years and a decimal age of 14.9 and 11.8 years, respectively. The anthropometric measures were obtained according to Fragoso and Vieira (2000) and the maturation level was calculated according to TW3 method (Tanner et al., 2001). We used the WHO-HBSC questionnaire (World Health Organization-Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) ( and a questionnaire to assess the socioeconomic status and daily life routines. The somatotype was evaluated in agreement with Heath and Carter (1967). The descriptive and exploratory statistical and the discriminant analysis of the data were carried out using SPSS 11.5 for Windows.


In general more mature athletes presented more caloric energy expenditure with daily life routines. The gymnasts ingested smaller amounts of proteins and sweet food than the soccer players. The ingestion of carbohydrates was similar in both samples. Soccer players presented higher arm tensed circumference variability when considering the differences between the studied maturational levels. The variables that best discriminated among the delayed (positive) and advanced (negative) individual maturation (difference between bone age and decimal age) were decimal age (- .732), mid-thigh girth (-1.38), thoracic skinfold (.394), leg length (- .106), fat free mass weight (.230) and the comparison score among athletes (relative to the frequency of food ingestion, -2.232).


The results showed that the kind of food habits practiced by both groups can be related with their maturational level, however apparently it does not influence their physical robustness. The amount of fat free mass, measured through mid thigh girths or through anthropometric equations, seems to be a good measure of child’s maturational status.



[1]. Fragoso I. & Vieira F. (2000). Morfologia e Crescimento. Cruz Quebrada, Edições FMH.

[2]. Heath B. H. & Carter J. E. .L (1967). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 27, 57-74.

[3]. Tanner J. M. et al. (2001) Assessment of skeletal maturity and prediction of adult Height (TW3 Method). London: W.B. Saunders.