The associations between current recommendation for physical activity and cardiovascular risks associated with obesity

M Akbartabartoori, M E J Lean, C R Hankey
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008, 62 (1): 1-9

OBJECTIVE: To examine associations between current recommended physical activity levels and body mass index (BMI) with some cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), non-HDL-cholesterol (non-HDL-C), C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, and blood pressure), general health score (GHQ12) and predicted coronary heart disease (CHD) risk.

DESIGN: Further analysis of the cross-sectional Scottish Health Survey 1998 data.

SUBJECTS: Five thousand four hundred and sixty adults 16-74 years of age.

RESULTS: After controlling for some confounding factors, obesity was significantly associated with higher odds ratio (OR) for elevated cholesterol, CRP, systolic blood pressure, non-HDL-C and lower HDL-C (P<0.001), and with greater predicted CHD risk compared to BMI <25 kg/m(2). Regular self-reported physical activity was associated with smaller OR of lower HDL-C and higher CRP, and average predicted 10-year CHD risk in obese subjects, but did not eliminate the higher risk of the measured CVD risk factors in this group. The OR of these two risk factors were still high 4.39 and 2.67, respectively, when compared with those who were inactive with BMI <25 kg/m(2) (P<0.001). Those who reported being physically active had better GHQ scores in all BMI categories (P<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Reporting achievement of recommended physical activity levels may reduce some CVD risk factors, predicted CHD risk and improve psychosocial health, but may not eliminate the extra risk imposed by overweight/obesity. Therefore, increasing physical activity and reducing body weight should be considered to tackle CVD risk factors.

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