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Associations of metabolic syndrome (MetS) with lifestyle behaviors in youth is potentially important for identifying subgroups at risk and encourage interventions. This study evaluates the associations among the clustering of metabolic risk factors and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in youth.


The sample comprised 522 girls and 402 boys (N = 924) aged 11 to 17 years. Height, weight, waist circumference (WC), fasting glucose, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressures were measured. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) was assessed using the 20-m shuttle run test. MVPA was estimated with a 3-day diary. Outcome variables were statistically normalized and expressed as z scores. A clustered metabolic risk score was computed as the mean of z scores. Multiple linear regression was used to test associations between metabolic risk and MVPA by sex, adjusted for age, WC, and CRF.


After adjustment for potential confounders, MVPA was inversely associated with the clustering of metabolic risk factors in girls, but not in boys; in addition, after adjusting for WC, the statistical model of that relationship was substantially improved in girls.


MVPA was independently associated with increased risk of MetS in girls. Additional efforts are needed to encourage research with different analytical approach and standardization of criteria for MetS in youth.

Machado-Rodrigues (, Coelho e Silva, Valente-dos-Santos, and Martins are with the Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Leite, Mascarenhas, and Boguszewski are with the Dept of Physical Education, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil. Pades is with the Research Centre for Anthropology and Health, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Malina is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Tarleton State University, Austin, TX.