Muscular fitness, fatness and inflammatory biomarkers in adolescents

Pediatr Obes. 2014 Oct;9(5):391-400. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2013.00186.x. Epub 2013 Jul 5.


Background: Muscular fitness, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and fatness are mutually related with chronic inflammation.

Purpose: To examine the independent association of muscular fitness with inflammatory biomarkers in adolescents from nine European countries.

Methods: A total of 639 adolescents (296 boys) aged from 12.5 to 17.5 year were included in this report. Data collection took place in 2006-2007 and analyses in 2012. A muscular fitness score was computed from handgrip strength and standing long jump. CRF was measured using the 20 m shuttle run test. Z-scores of C-reactive protein, complement factors C3 and C4, leptin and white blood cell counts were summed to create a cluster of inflammatory biomarkers. Sex, age, pubertal stage and centre were used as main confounders. Additional models were further adjusted for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and sum of four skinfolds.

Results: Muscular fitness was negatively associated with single and clustered inflammatory biomarkers (standardized β from -0.399 to -0.100, all P-values < 0.05). Additional adjustments for CRF and HOMA-IR weakened the associations, but they still remained significant. The association was no longer significant when adjusting for skinfolds. Decreasing values of inflammatory score were observed across incremental levels of muscular fitness in both non-overweight and overweight adolescents (P ≤ 0.05).

Conclusions: Adolescents with higher levels of muscular fitness present a lower chronic inflammation, and this seems to be explained by lower levels of fatness. Yet, overweight and obese adolescents may exhibit a less adverse profile if they maintain appropriate levels of muscular fitness.

Keywords: Adolescents; fatness; fitness; inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Leptin / blood
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Overweight / physiopathology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Leptin
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Cholesterol