Recent study shows risk factors of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease accumulate in children with poor aerobic fitness.
University of Eastern Finland have discovered that children who have a poor aerobic fitness regime are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and experience the risk factors of type 2 diabetes. The research also found that the typical way of expressing aerobic fitness in proportion to total body mass overestimates the role of aerobic fitness in identifying children at an increased risk of these diseases.
Determining poor aerobic fitness
The study determined threshold values of aerobic fitness for girls and boys, making it possible to identify children who are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The aerobic fitness of the participants was determined by measuring peak oxygen uptake during an exercise test. In addition, their body adiposity and skeletal muscle mass was measured by bioelectrical impedance.
Often, poor aerobic fitness is determined by dividing the aerobic fitness measure obtained from an exercise test by total body mass that includes adipose tissue. This way, the calculated measure describes not only aerobic fitness but also body adiposity or fatness, which may lead to mistaken interpretations of the association of aerobic fitness with the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Total body mass over skeletal muscle mass
The newly published study demonstrates that children with poor aerobic fitness in proportion to their total body mass have a remarkably higher chance of experiencing the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than their peers with better aerobic fitness. When aerobic fitness was proportioned to skeletal muscle mass, the association of aerobic fitness with the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease remained but was considerably weaker than when proportioned to total body mass.
Dr Agbaje, the first author of the study, University of Eastern Finland, explains further: “Measures of aerobic fitness that are based on total body mass are better at predicting the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than measures that are based on skeletal muscle mass; however, they exaggerate the role of aerobic fitness in children’s health.
Agbaje concludes: “We should be cautious when interpreting aerobic fitness measures that are proportioned to total body mass in order to correctly identify children who truly need health and lifestyle intervention.”