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Poor fitness common in teens and adults, with associated rise in cardiovascular disease risk factors

Approximately one-third of adolescents and 14 percent of adults (aged 20 to 49 years) in the U.S. have poor cardiorespiratory fitness, with an associated increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as higher total cholesterol and blood pressure levels, according to a study in the December 21 issue of JAMA.

There is strong and consistent evidence from observational studies that physical inactivity and poor cardiorespiratory fitness (i.e., fitness) are associated with higher illness and death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, according to background information in the article. United States population reports describe an increasingly less physically active society, with marked downturns in reported physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood. Prior to the current National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), data were not available to quantify objectively determined cardiorespiratory fitness in the U.S. population. The extent to which physical inactivity affects the risk of heart disease through its negative impact on cardiorespiratory fitness, which is associated with a high prevalence of other CVD risk factors, is not known at the population level.

Mercedes R. Carnethon, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, examined the prevalence of low fitness in the U.S. population of adolescents and adults younger than 50 years and determined the relation between low fitness and CVD risk factors in this population. Using data from NHANES 1999-2002, the researchers analyzed data for adolescents (aged 12-19 years; n = 3,110) and adults (aged 20-49 years; n = 2,205) who were free from previously diagnosed CVD. The participants underwent submaximal graded exercise treadmill testing to achieve at least 75 percent to 90 percent of their age-predicted maximum heart rate. Maximal oxygen consumption (Vo2max) was estimated by measurin
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Contact: Elizabeth Crown
312-503-8928
JAMA and Archives Journals
20-Dec-2005


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