Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2007 Nov 19;4:61.

Physical activity, overweight and central adiposity in Swedish children and adolescents: the European Youth Heart Study.

Author information

Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden.



The aim of this work was to study the associations of physical activity (PA) and other factors predisposing to overweight, with overweight and central adiposity in children and adolescents.


A total of 557 Swedish children (9.5 +/- 0.3 y) and 517 adolescents (15.6 +/- 0.4 y) from the European Youth Heart Study participated in this study. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations of PA, as measured by accelerometry, and other determinants (i.e. television viewing, birth weight, maternal educational level and parental overweight) with total and central adiposity. Body mass index and waist circumference cut-off values proposed by the IOTF and the Bogalusa Heart Study (i.e. waist measures for predicting risk factors clustering, hereinafter called high-risk waist circumference), respectively, were used. Fatness was estimated from skinfold thicknesses and dichotomized using the 85th sex- and age-specific percentile (high/low).


Children and adolescents who had a low level (first tertile) of vigorous PA, were more likely to be overweight (including obesity) and to have a high-risk waist circumference, than those with a high level (third tertile) of vigorous PA. Similarly, those subjects who had a low or middle level (second tertile) of total PA were more likely to be overweight than those who had a high level of total PA. Among the PA variables, only vigorous PA was associated with high total fatness. Birth weight and television viewing, were also associated with higher odds of having a high-risk waist circumference, but these associations were attenuated once either total or vigorous PA variable was included in the model. Those subjects who had two overweight parents were more likely to be overweight and to have a high-risk waist circumference independently of PA variables, compared to those whose parents were not overweight.


Low levels of total PA and especially vigorous PA may play an important role in the development of overweight and excess of central adiposity in children and adolescents, independently of a number of factors such as television viewing and birth weight. In addition, the data suggest that the association between television viewing and central fat deposition could be attenuated if enough vigorous PA is accumulated. Longitudinal and intervention studies are needed to confirm these findings.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center