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José Castro-Piñero, Carmen Padilla-Moledo, Francisco B. Ortega, Diego Moliner-Urdiales, Xiaofen Keating, and Jonatan R. Ruiz

Background:

We examined the association of cardiorespiratory fitness and fatness with health complaints and health risk behaviors in 691 (323 girls) Spanish children aged 6 to 17.9.

Methods:

Health complaints and health risk behaviors were self-reported using items of the Health Behavior in School-aged Children questionnaire. Weight and height were measured and body mass index was computed. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured by the 20-m shuttle-run test, and youth categorized as fit/unfit.

Results:

Unfit youth were more likely to report health complaints sometime (OR: 2.556, 95% CI: 1.299–5.031; and OR: 1.997, 95% CI: 1.162–3.433, respectively) and health risk behaviors such as drinking alcohol sometime (OR: 5.142, 95% CI: 1.214–21.783; and OR: 2.413, 95% CI: 1.484–3.923) than their fit counterparts. Overweight-obese youth were more likely to report health complaints (OR: 1.732, 95% CI: 1.019–2.945; and OR: 1.983, 95% CI: 1.083–3.629, respectively). The analysis of the combined influence of fitness and fatness revealed that fit youth had lower health complaints index than the fat-unfit and unfat-unfit groups (all P < .05).

Conclusions:

Low fitness and overweight-obesity increased the risk of having health complaints in youth, yet high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness might overcome deleterious effects of overweight-obesity on health complaints.