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Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Nov 1;156(9):832-41.

Fitness and fatness as predictors of mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular disease in men and women in the lipid research clinics study.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


The relative size of the effects of fitness and fatness on longevity has been studied in only one cohort. The authors examined this issue using data from 2,506 women and 2,860 men in the Lipid Research Clinics Study. The mean age was 46.6 years in women and 45.1 years in men at baseline (1972-1976). Fitness was assessed using a treadmill test, and fatness was assessed as body mass index calculated from measured height and weight. Participants were followed for vital status through 1998. Hazard ratios were calculated using proportional hazard models that included covariates for age, education, smoking, alcohol intake, and the dietary Keys score. Fitness and fatness were both associated with mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular disease. For mortality from all causes, the adjusted hazard ratios were 1.32 among the fit-fat, 1.30 among the unfit-not fat, and 1.57 among the unfit-fat women compared with fit-not fat women. Among men the same hazard ratios were 1.25, 1.44, and 1.49 [corrected]. There were no significant interactions between fitness and fatness in either men or women. The authors conclude that both fitness and fatness are risk factors for mortality, and that being fit does not completely reverse the increased risk associated with excess adiposity.

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