COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Fatness is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease risk factor profile than aerobic fitness in healthy men

Demetra D Christou, Christopher L Gentile, Christopher A DeSouza, Douglas R Seals, Phillip E Gates
Circulation 2005 April 19, 111 (15): 1904-14
15837943

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is partly attributable to an inactive and/or overweight population. However, the independent association of body fatness and aerobic fitness with CVD risk factors is uncertain. We sought to determine whether fatness or fitness better predicted traditional CVD risk factors in men with broad fatness, aerobic fitness, and age ranges using 3 expressions of adiposity.

METHODS AND RESULTS: In 135 carefully screened healthy men, we measured 18 established CVD risk factors, body mass index, total percent body fat, waist circumference, and maximal aerobic capacity. Body mass index, percent body fat, and waist circumference were consistently associated with all metabolic risk factors (r=-0.44 to 0.51, P<0.05) after partialling out the effects of aerobic fitness and age. Body mass index and waist circumference were also independently associated with selective hemodynamic risk factors (r=0.20 to 0.30, P< or =0.01). In contrast, aerobic fitness was independently associated with only selective metabolic risk factors (r=-0.21 to 0.19, P<0.05) and was not associated with any hemodynamic risk factors (P>0.05). Both aerobic fitness and body fatness were independently associated with selective hemostatic risk factors (r=-0.22 to -0.26, P< or =0.01; r=-0.32 to 0.48, P<0.05, respectively). Overall, fatness was more strongly and consistently associated with CVD risk factors than aerobic fitness.

CONCLUSIONS: Body fatness is a better predictor of CVD risk factor profile than aerobic fitness in healthy men. Although habitual physical activity is an effective strategy for preventing CVD, elevated body fatness is associated with an adverse CVD risk factor profile independently of aerobic fitness.

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