Objective: To examine the relation of body mass index (BMI), cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and all-cause mortality in women.
Research methods and procedures: A cohort of women (42.9 +/- 10.4 years) was assessed for CRF, height, and weight. Participants were divided into three BMI categories (normal, overweight, and obese) and three CRF categories (low, moderate, and high). After adjustment for age, smoking, and baseline health status, the relative risk (RR) of all-cause mortality was determined for each group. Further multivariate analyses were performed to examine the contribution of each predictor (e.g., age, BMI, CRF, smoking status, and baseline health status) on all-cause mortality while controlling for all other predictors.
Results: During follow-up (113,145 woman-years), 195 deaths from all causes occurred. Compared with normal weight (RR = 1.0), overweight (RR = 0.92) and obesity (RR = 1.58) did not significantly increase all-cause mortality risk. Compared with low CRF (RR = 1.0), moderate (RR = 0.48) and high (RR = 0.57) CRF were associated significantly with lower mortality risk (p = 0.002). In multivariate analyses, moderate (RR = 0.49) and high (RR = 0.57) CRF were strongly associated with decreased mortality relative to low CRF (p = 0.003). Compared with normal weight (RR = 1.0), overweight (RR = 0.84) and obesity (RR = 1.21) were not significantly associated with all-cause mortality.
Discussion: Low CRF in women was an important predictor of all-cause mortality. BMI, as a predictor of all-cause mortality risk in women, may be misleading unless CRF is also considered.