In Nonobese Children, Fitness and BMI Are Independent Predictors of Fasting Insulin

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Although fitness and obesity have been shown to be independent predictors of cardiometabolic disease risk in obese children, this interaction is not well defined in nonobese children. The purpose of this study was to define the relationships between peak aerobic capacity, body composition, and fasting insulin levels in nonobese middle school children.

Study Design:

148 middle school children (mean age 11.0 ± 2.1 years, 49% male) underwent determination of body mass index (BMI) z-score, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, body composition by DXA scan (lean body mass and body fat percentage), and peak oxygen uptake per kg of lean body mass (VO2peak). Univariate correlations and multivariate regression analysis were used to identify independent predictors of fasting insulin using age, sex, percent body fat, body mass index z-score, and VO2peak.


fasting insulin was significantly related to VO2peak (r =−0.37, p < .001), percent body fat (r = .27, p < .001), and BMI z-score (r = .33, p = .002). After inclusion in the multivariate model, VO2peak (p = .018) and body mass index z-score (p = .043) remained significant predictors of fasting insulin, while age (p = .39), sex (p = .49), and percent body fat (p = .72) did not.


Among nonobese middle school children, fasting insulin is independently related to aerobic fitness after accounting for age, sex, and body composition. Public health efforts to reduce cardiometabolic disease risk among all adolescents should include exercise programs to increase cardiovascular fitness.

The authors are with the Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI.

Address author correspondence to Andrew M. Watson at