Effects of body fatness and physical activity on cardiovascular risk: risk prediction using the bioelectrical impedance method

Scand J Public Health. 2006;34(6):568-75. doi: 10.1080/14034940600595621.


Aims: To explore the effects of body fat percentage (BF%) on incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and to study the cardio-protective effect of physical activity in relation to BF%.

Methods: A total of 26,942 men and women, aged 45-73 years, without history of CVD were followed up for incidence of coronary events (CE), ischaemic stroke, and CVD mortality over seven years in relation to sex-specific quartiles (Q1-Q4) of BF%. The cardio-protective effect of leisure-time physical activity was studied in relation to BF%.

Results: In men, the relative risk (RR) for CE and CVD mortality increased progressively with BF%. RR for CE in Q4 was 1.37 (95% confidence interval: 1.07-1.74), adjusted for age, height, smoking, high alcohol intake, and physical activity, compared with Q1. In women, BF% was significantly associated with incidence of CE and stroke. BF% was more strongly correlated to body mass index (BMI) (r = 0.83) and waist circumference (r = 0.76) in women than in men (r = 0.59 and r = 0.66, respectively). BF% was a stronger risk factor than BMI in women, and equally strong as waist circumference. A significant interaction (p = 0.013 for incidence of CE, p = 0.026 for ischaemic stroke) was found between BF% and sex. The raised cardiovascular risk was reduced by physical activity in subjects with high BF%.

Conclusions: BF% is a risk factor for CE, ischaemic stroke, and CVD mortality. An interaction between BF% and sex suggests that BF% is a stronger CVD risk factor in women. The raised cardiovascular risk associated with high BF% is reduced by physical activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electric Impedance
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Waist-Hip Ratio