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Lance E. Davidson, Larry Tucker and Travis Peterson

Background:

The influence of physical activity (PA) changes on risk of abdominal fat gain in midlife women has not been studied using objective measures and controlling for potentially confounding variables.

Methods:

Changes in PA were assessed within a prospective cohort of 233 middle-age (40 ± 3 years), nonobese, nonsmoking, primarily Caucasian women by using accelerometers, worn continuously for 7 consecutive days at baseline and again at a 20 month follow-up. Weighed food intake diaries were completed on concurrent days. Bod Pod assessed total body fat. Abdominal fat was measured by abdominal circumference at the umbilicus.

Results:

Women who decreased PA gained abdominal fat across 20 months, while women who increased PA (F = 4.82, P = .009) did not. Change in PA remained an independent predictor of abdominal fat change after adjusting for potential confounders, including changes in total body fat and total energy intake. Compared with women who maintained or decreased PA, women who increased PA had approximately half the risk (RR = 0.52, 95% CI: 0.27, 0.98) of gaining abdominal fat.

Conclusions:

Increasing daily physical activity may attenuate risk of abdominal fat gain in middle-age women independent of changes in total body fat or energy intake.

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Danielle R. Bouchard, K. Ashlee McGuire, Lance Davidson and Robert Ross

One hundred forty-six abdominally obese adults age 60–80 yr were studied to investigate the interaction between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and obesity on functional limitation. Obesity was determined by fat mass (FM), CRF was determined by a maximal treadmill test, and functional limitation was based on 4 different tasks that are predictive of subsequent disability. Both FM (r = –.34, p ≤ .01) and CRF (r = .54, p ≤ .01) were independently associated with functional limitation in bivariate analysis. After further control for sex, age, and the interaction term (CRF × FM), FM was no longer independently associated with functional limitation (p = .10). Analyses were also based on sex-specific tertiles of FM and CRF. The referent group demonstrated significantly lower functional limitation than the low-CRF/low-FM and the low-CRF/high-FM groups (both p ≤ .05). These results highlight the value of recommending exercise for abdominally obese adults.