Purpose: Examine whether concurrently consuming a healthy diet and regularly being physically active among U.S. youth is more favorably associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers than other physical activity and dietary patterns.
Setting: United States (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) 2003-2006.
Subjects: Two thousand six hundred twenty-nine youth (6-17 years).
Measures: Healthy Eating Index (HEI), accelerometer-determined physical activity, biomarkers, and anthropometry. Four categories were created: consuming a healthy diet (top 40% of HEI) and active (sufficient to meet guidelines); unhealthy diet and active; healthy diet and inactive; and unhealthy diet and inactive.
Analysis: Multivariable regression.
Results: Children consuming a healthy diet and who were active had significantly lower waist circumference (β = -5.5, p < .006), C-reactive protein (CRP) (β = -.2, p < .006), and triglycerides (β = -27.9, p < .006) than children consuming an unhealthy diet and who were inactive. Children engaging in both healthy behaviors had significantly lower CRP (β = -.11, p < .001) and total cholesterol levels (β = -7.8, p = .004) than those only engaging in sufficient activity; there were no significant differences in biomarker levels among children engaging in both healthy behaviors and those only consuming a healthy diet. No associations were significant for adolescents.
Conclusion: Concurrent healthy eating and regular physical activity among children is favorably associated with CVD biomarkers when compared with unhealthy diet and inactivity.
Keywords: Epidemiology, Diet, Physical Activity, Biomarkers, Health, Prevention Research. Manuscript format: applied research brief; Health focus: physical activity and nutrition; Outcome measure: biometric; Research purpose: modeling/relationship testing, descriptive; Setting: national; Strategy: education, behavior change; Study design: cross-sectional; Target population age: youth; Target population circumstances: education.