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Low Fitness of U.S. Teens and Adults Linked to CVD Risk

One third of adolescents, 14% of adults are unfit

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- About one-third of teens and 14% of adults in the United States have poor cardiorespiratory fitness, and those less-fit individuals tend to have other cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, such as a higher body mass index and elevated cholesterol, according to a study published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mercedes R. Carnethon, Ph.D., of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data covering 3,110 adolescents aged 12 to 19 and 2,205 adults aged 20 to 49 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. None of the participants had been diagnosed with CVD. Fitness was gauged using treadmill testing.

Among the adolescents, 33.6% were identified as having low fitness, as were 13.9% of adults. While male and female adolescents were almost equally unfit (34.4% of females and 32.9% of males), adult females were more likely to be unfit than males (16.2% compared with 11.8%). Those with low fitness had a higher BMI and waist circumference, and total cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure were also higher.

"The consequences of declines in physical activity over time are now evident by the large proportion of society with low levels of fitness," the authors conclude.

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