Objective To study the changes of physical functions among minority students in China from 1985 to 2005, to provide evidence for health promotion to the minority students in the country. Methods Using data from the Chinese national survey on students physical fitness and health from 1985 to 2005, we analyzed the physical functions of 15 minority groups from primary and secondary schools, including Mongolian, Hui, Uygur, Zhuang, Korean, Tibetan, Yao, Li, Qiang, Buyi, Dong, Miao, Tu, Salar, Kirgiz, aged 7-18 years old. Results Some of the minority students had the higher levels of physiological functions and athletic ability, but some indicators decreased significantly. In terms of items related to ＇speed＇ , most of the minority boys and girls improved, but items related to ＇endurance＇ or ＇vital capacity＇, were significantly declining. Part of the minority students had better ＇endurance＇ than students of Han ethnicity in the cities. All the indicators of athletic ability declined in schoolboys and schoolgirls of Korean ethnicity. Kirgiz students were outstanding in vital capacity and speed quality while Uighur students had better physical development and vital capacity, but were poorer in running and jumping, reflecting the weakness of explosive power of lower limbs. On the contrary, Li and Zhuang students had shown a very good quality in running, jumping, male shoulder muscular strength and endurance items, etc. Conclusion The physical functions and the athletic ability of the minority students in China had the advantages and characteristics, which might be related to their living environment and habits.
Chinese Journal of Epidemiology