Physical Activity, Measures of Obesity, and Cardiometabolic Risk: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $117.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $156.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $222.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $296.00


The influence of higher physical activity on the relationship between adiposity and cardiometabolic risk is not completely understood.


Between 2000–2002, data were collected on 6795 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants. Self-reported intentional physical activity in the lowest quartile (0–105 MET-minutes/week) was categorized as inactive and the upper three quartiles (123–37,260 MET-minutes/week) as active. Associations of body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference categories, stratified by physical activity status (inactive or active) with cardiometabolic risk factors (dyslipidemia, hypertension, upper quartile of homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance [HOMA-IR] for population, and impaired fasting glucose or diabetes) were assessed using logistic regression analysis adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and current smoking.


Among obese participants, those who were physically active had reduced odds of insulin resistance (47% lower; P < .001) and impaired fasting glucose/diabetes (23% lower; P = .04). These associations were weaker for central obesity. However, among participants with a normal waist circumference, those who were inactive were 63% more likely to have insulin resistance (OR [95% CI] 1.63 [1.24–2.15]) compared with the active reference group.


Physical activity was inversely related to the cardiometabolic risk associated with obesity and central obesity.

McAuley is with the Dept of Health, Physical Education, and Sport Sciences, Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC. Chen is with the Dept of Biostatistical Sciences, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. Lee is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Artero is with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Bluemke is with the Dept of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Burke is with the Dept of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.