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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Jun;90(6):2319-24.

Fatty acid oxidation in African-American and Caucasian women during physical activity.

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  • 1Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sports Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, USA.


The goal of this study was to determine whether differences in physical activity-related fat oxidation exist between lean and obese African-American (LAA and OAA) and lean and obese Caucasian (LC and OC) premenopausal women. Lean AA (28.4 +/- 2.8 yr, n = 7), LC (24.7 +/- 1.8 yr, n = 9), OAA (30.9 +/- 2.2 yr, n = 11), and OC (34.1 +/- 2.5 yr, n = 9) women underwent preliminary assessment of peak aerobic capacity (VO2 peak). On a subsequent testing day, participants exercised after an 8-h fast on a cycle ergometer at 15 W (approximately 40% VO2 peak) for 10 min and then for 10 min at approximately 65% VO2 peak). Fatty acid oxidation was determined using the average respiratory exchange ratio and O2 consumption during minutes 5-9 of the exercise session. Percent body fat and fat-free mass were lower (P < 0.05) in LAA (25.8 +/- 2.8% and 48.3 kg) and LC (26.4 +/- 2.0% and 45.8 +/- 1.7 kg) than in OAA (41.2 +/- 1.3% and 58.8 +/- 3.3 kg) and OC (39.3 +/- 2.7% and 58.6 kg) women. Fat oxidation among the groups was analyzed statistically using analysis of covariance with fat-free mass and VO2 peak) as covariates. During exercise at 15 W, fat oxidation was as low in LAA (0.134 +/- 0.024 g/min) as in OAA (0.144 +/- 0.026 g/min) and OC (0.156 +/- 0.020 g/min) women: all these rates of fat oxidation were lower than in LC women (0.200 +/- 0.021 g/min, P < 0.05, LC vs. all other groups). Fatty acid oxidation during higher-intensity exercise (65% VO2 peak)) was higher in LC than in OC women but was not statistically different between African-American and Caucasian groups. Fatty acid oxidation was therefore lower during low-intensity physical activity in OAA, LAA, and OC than in LC women.

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