Objective: To quantify the relation of fitness to mortality among men with diabetes, adjusted for BMI and within levels of BMI.
Research design and methods: In this observational cohort study, we calculated all-cause death rates in men with diabetes across quartiles of fitness and BMI categories. Study participants were 2,196 men with diabetes (average age 49.3 years, SD 9.5) who underwent a medical examination, including a maximal exercise test, during 1970 to 1995, with mortality follow-up to 31 December 1996.
Results: We identified 275 deaths during 32,161 person-years of observation. Risk of all-cause mortality was inversely related to fitness. For example, in the fully adjusted model, the risk of mortality was 4.5 (2.6-7.6), 2.8 (1.6-4.7), and 1.6 (0.93-2.76) for the first, second, and third fitness quartiles, respectively, with the fourth quartile (highest fitness level) as the referent (P for trend <0.0001). There was no significant trend across BMI categories for mortality after adjustment for fitness. Similar results were found when the fitness-mortality relation was examined within levels of body composition. In normal-weight men with diabetes, the relative risks of mortality were 6.6 (2.8-15.0), 3.2 (1.4-7.0), and 2.2 (1.1-4.6) for the first, second, and third quartiles of fitness, respectively, as compared with the fourth quartile (P for trend <0.0001). We found similar results in the overweight and obese weight categories.
Conclusions: There was a steep inverse gradient between fitness and mortality in this cohort of men with documented diabetes, and this association was independent of BMI.