BACKGROUNDS/OBJECTIVES: Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and body fat play an important role in elevated risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the combined effects of CRF and obesity on metabolic health in Chinese children are unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the independent and combined associations between body fat, CRF, and CVD risk in Chinese schoolchildren.
Methods: The study subjects comprised 676 schoolchildren (392 boys and 284 girls, aged 9.6±0.7 yrs old) in Wuhan, China. Their body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), CRF, blood pressure (BP), lipids, glucose, and pubertal status were assessed. Children were categorized into different groups based on their BMI, WC, and CRF using Chinese obesity cut-off points and CRF sex-specific median points. Metabolic Risk Score (MRS) was computed based on the standardized scores of BP, lipids, and glucose.
Results: Multiple linear regression models showed that, in the separate models, body fat was positively associated with MRS while CRF was inversely associated with MRS (p<0.001). However, when assessed simultaneously, only body fat had a significant association with MRS (p<0.001). In general, low-fit children had a lower MRS compared to their counterparts, and a significant difference between the two extreme groups was observed (low CRF and high fat vs. high CRF and low fat, p<0.001).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that both body fat and CRF should be considered when interpreting CVD risk in Chinese children, while body fat may be correlated with CVD risk more than CRF.