Obesity and physical inactivity are known, modifiable contributors to morbidity and mortality but the relative importance of each is often confused. Two recent studies investigated the proportional contributions.
One study, published in the April, 2012, issue of the American Journal of Public Health, looked at the effect of type and intensity of activity on all cause mortality in a sample of 7456 British civil servants. Activities were classified as mild, moderate, or vigorous based upon published energy expenditure levels. In statistical models controlling for age, those with the lowest activity levels had a higher mortality risk than those with intermediate or high activity levels. Those with at least one hour of moderate activity per week had a one-third lower risk of death than those with less than one hour.
In another study, published in the April, 2012, issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, looked at leisure time physical activity, body mass index (BMI), and the health related quality of life in a sample of 110,986 Canadian adults. The investigators used validated measures of the impact of health status on quality of life. Both BMI and physical inactivity were independent predictors of a diminished quality of life and, when considered together, physical inactivity was the stronger predictor.
These studies are consistent with other studies that have shown cardiovascular conditioning to be more important that weight status in predicting adverse cardiovascular events. They also show the value of increasing physical activity even in the absence of weight loss.
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