Which is more important: fitness or fatness?

 Researchers studied the relationship among fitness, adiposity, and mortality in older adults.

First, the details.

  • 2603 older adults completed a baseline health examination.
  • Fitness was assessed using a maximal exercise test.
  • Adiposity was assessed by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percent body fat.
  • Low fitness was defined as the lowest 20% duration of time on the treadmill adjusted for gender.
  • The main outcome was death due to any cause.

And, the results.

  • There were 450 deaths over 12 years.
  • There was a significant association between waist circumference and mortality even after adjusting this finding for smoking, baseline health status, and BMI.
    • But the association was lost after adjusting for fitness.
  • By comparison, fitness significantly predicted mortality risk after adjusting for the effect of smoking, baseline health, and either BMI, waist circumference, or percent body fat.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Fitness was a significant mortality predictor in older adults, independent of overall or abdominal adiposity.”

These findings seem to support the views of Dr. Linda Bacon (here and here) at the City College of San Francisco. She believes weight has been greatly exaggerated as a health risk.

12/15/08 20:25 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.