Fatness, fitness, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in children and adolescents

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Aug;39(8):1251-6. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318064c8b0.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine differences in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors across four cross-tabulated groups of cardiorespiratory fitness and body fatness in youth.

Methods: Subjects included 860 males and 755 females aged 9-15 yr from the Australian Schools Health and Fitness Survey. Participants were cross-tabulated into four groups using percent body fat and estimated maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) to split the groups. CVD risk factors included blood pressure, triglycerides (TG), fasting total cholesterol (CHOL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and TC:HDL-C.

Results: In males, significant differences across groups were observed for blood pressure, TG, HDL-C, LDL-C, and TC:HDL-C (P < 0.05). In females, significant group differences were observed for blood pressure and HDL-C (P < 0.05). In females, a significant difference was also evident between those in the high-fat/high-fitness group compared with the high-fat/low-fitness group for all blood pressure measures. A general trend of lower blood pressure values for both males and females in the low-fat group compared with the high-fat group was also observed. This same trend was found for males in the blood lipids. There was a linear relationship across groups for the CVD risk score for both genders. There were also significant differences between the low- and high-fat subgroups within a fitness group for both genders.

Conclusion: The results provide evidence for the consideration of both fatness and fitness when interpreting CVD risk factors in youth, particularly among high-fat youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • South Australia