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CHANGES IN MORPHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS IN PRESCHOOL BOYS OVER THE PERIOD OF TWENTY YEARS

V. Horvat1, S. Jenko Miholic1, J. Alic2

1University of Zagreb, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
2University of Zadar, Department for Teacher and Preschool Teacher Education (CROATIA)
The aim of this study was to investigate whether individual morphological characteristics have changed in boys aged six years ± 6 months during period of twenty years. The sample included 498 Croatian kindergarten boys. Measurements were conducted every five years, starting 1998 and finishing in 2018. Boys were measured with a total of 14 morphological measures: three measures of longitudinal dimensions, two measures of transverse dimensions, four measures of circumference and four measures of mass and subcutaneous adipose tissue and BMI-body mass index as a predictor of subcutaneous adipose tissue. ANOVA in addition to the Bonferroni post-hoc test was used to determine statistically significant differences in the measured variables during the five measurements.

Research results indicate statistically significant differences in most of the examined morphological variables. Only no statistically significant difference was determined for the BMI variable. As it is calculated as combination of body height and body weight and since both have increased significantly over the past twenty years, the result is understandable. All other measured variables of morphological characteristics changed statistically significantly. Of particular concern are the results showing statistically significant differences in body mass and subcutaneous adipose tissue measurements. The results revealed that in the past 20 years there has been a significant increase in body weight in boys and a particularly significant increase in the level of subcutaneous fat. Obviously, there is a negative trend that is caused primarily by the increasingly dominant sedentary lifestyle and probably inappropriate diet based on carbohydrates and fats. The results indicate the urged need for a significant change in the lifestyle of Croatian preschool boys, primarily by increasing the share of daily physical activities. In addition, programs should be designed to educate parents to change everyday diet by increasing the proportion of foods that are high in nutritional value and low in calories. In addition, people who are in charge about children's physical activity should work on programs that would encourage boys of this age to spend more time in physical activities.