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February 5, 2014 • Kids Health

Youth Fatness Trumps Fitness for Future Heart Attack Risk

In the first major study to assess both fitness and body weight in the teen years—and relate it to the future risk of having a heart attack—scientists uncovered some notable findings. The study included 743,498 Swedish men who had their body weight and fitness levels measured at age 18. The study subjects were then monitored over the next 30 years. The key findings from this study included the following:

  • Physically fit, lean teens were 35% less likely to suffer a premature heart attack.
  • Lean teens, regardless of fitness, were also about 35% less likely to suffer a premature heart attack.
  • Overweight, but fit teens were less likely to suffer a future heart attack relative to overweight, unfit teens, but still had a higher risk than lean, unfit teens.


Study conclusions: Although fitness is beneficial, it cannot fully compensate for the future cardiovascular risk that comes from teenage overweight/obesity. Given our epidemic of teen obesity, these findings are particularly ominous.


(European Heart Journal, 2014;DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/eht527)