The role of fitness in the association between fatness and cardiometabolic risk from childhood to adolescence

Pediatr Diabetes. 2013 Feb;14(1):57-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5448.2012.00893.x. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Background: Fatness and fitness both influence cardiometabolic risk.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether childhood fatness and increasing fatness from childhood to adolescence are associated with cardiometabolic risk during adolescence and how fitness affects this association.

Subjects and methods: Of 565 adolescents (283 boys and 282 girls) from the TRacking Adolescents Individual Life Survey (TRAILS) data on anthropometric parameters (age 11 and 16), metabolic parameters, and fitness (age 16) were available. Body mass index and skinfolds were used as measures for fatness. Increasing fatness was calculated by subtracting Z-scores for fatness at age 11 from Z-score fatness at age 16. Cardiometabolic risk was calculated as the average of the standardized means of mean arterial pressure, fasting serum triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, glucose, and waist circumference. Insulin resistance was calculated by homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Fitness was estimated as maximal oxygen consumption (VO(2) max) during a shuttle run test.

Results: Boys showed a higher clustered cardiometabolic risk when compared to girls (p < 0.01). Childhood fatness (age 11) and increasing fatness were independently associated with cardiometabolic risk during adolescence. In boys, high fitness was related to a reduced effect of increasing fatness on clustered cardiometabolic risk. Childhood fatness, increasing fatness, and fitness were independently associated with HOMA-IR. Moreover, in boys this association was dependent of fatness.

Conclusions: Childhood fatness and increasing fatness are associated with increased cardiometabolic risk and HOMA-IR during adolescence, but a good fitness attenuates this association especially in fat boys.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Risk Factors