Body mass index, cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiometabolic risk factors in youth from Portugal and Mozambique

F K dos Santos, A Prista, T N Q F Gomes, D Santos, A Damasceno, A Madeira, P T Katzmarzyk, J A R Maia
International Journal of Obesity 2015, 39 (10): 1467-74

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study are to examine differences in cardiometabolic risk indicators, as well as their prevalences, in Portuguese and Mozambican youth, and to investigate the associations between weight status and cardiorespiratory fitness levels with cardiometabolic risk.

METHODS: The sample comprises 721 adolescents (323 Mozambican and 398 Portuguese), aged 10-15 years. Anthropometry (height, sitting height, weight and waist circumference), blood pressure, serum-fasting triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and glucose, and cardiorespiratory fitness were measured. Maturity offset was estimated and a cardiometabolic risk score adjusted for sex, age and biological maturity was computed. Adolescents were classified as normal weight and overweight/obese as well as fit or unfit (cardiorespiratory fitness).

RESULTS: Portuguese youth have better cardiometabolic and cardiorespiratory fitness profiles. About 32% and 30% of Portuguese boys and girls, respectively, are overweight/obese; in Mozambicans, these prevalences are 7.5% for boys and 21% for girls; in addition, 81.6% of Portuguese boys and 77.7% of Portuguese girls were classified as cardiorespiratory fit, against 54% and 44.4% of Mozambican boys and girls, respectively. No statistically significant differences (P>0.05) were found between Mozambicans and Portuguese for the cluster of three or more cardiometabolic risk indicators. A positive relationship (P<0.001) was found between weight status and cardiometabolic risk in adolescents from both countries; however, a negative association (P<0.001) between cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiometabolic risk was only found among Portuguese youth.

CONCLUSIONS: Portuguese and Mozambican youth differ in their cardiometabolic risk profiles, body weight and cardiorespiratory fitness, favoring Portuguese. Overweight/obesity and low cardiorespiratory fitness levels are related to a worse cardiometabolic risk profile, being relevant to design public health intervention strategies to reduce excess weight and increase cardiorespiratory fitness.

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