Joint association of physical activity and body weight with subsequent physical and mental functioning: a follow-up studyReportar como inadecuado

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BMC Public Health

, 13:197

Health behavior, health promotion and society


BackgroundPhysical inactivity and overweight are major threats to public health. However, it is not well understood to what extent physical activity might counteract the harmful effects of overweight on functioning. Thus, we examined the joint associations of leisure-time physical activity and body mass index BMI with subsequent physical and mental functioning over a follow-up of five to seven years.

MethodsThe data were derived from the Helsinki Health Study, which is a cohort study among employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland. The baseline postal survey data were collected among 40-60-year-old employees in 2000–02 n = 8960, response rate 67%, and the follow-up data in 2007 among all baseline survey respondents n = 7332, response rate 83%. We divided the participants into six groups according to their amount of physical activity inactive, moderately active and highly active and their relative weight normal weight and overweight. Highly active normal-weight participants were used as a reference group in all the analyses. Poor functioning was defined as the lowest quartile of the Short Form 36 SF-36 health survey’s physical and mental component summaries, with the follow-up cut-off point also applied at baseline. We used logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, baseline functioning, smoking, alcohol use, marital status, socioeconomic position and working conditions.

ResultsAt baseline 48% of the participants were overweight and 11% were inactive. After adjustments inactivity was associated with poor physical functioning at follow-up both among the normal-weight OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.09-2.10 and overweight OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.56-2.63 groups. Being overweight regardless of activity level was associated with poor physical functioning. Poor physical functioning was practically equally common among the highly active overweight group and the inactive normal-weight group. After adjustments, for mental functioning, only inactivity among the overweight was associated with poor mental functioning OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.08-1.80.

ConclusionsPhysical activity is likely to be beneficial for physical and mental functioning among both those with overweight and normal weight. However, maintaining normal weight is also important for good physical functioning. Therefore, efforts should be made to recommend people to engage in physical activity regardless of weight.

KeywordsPhysical activity Body mass index Overweight Health functioning Follow-up AbbreviationsBMIBody mass index

CIConfidence interval


MCSMental component summary

METMetabolic equivalent task

OROdds ratio

PCSPhysical component summary

PFPhysical functioning

SDStandard deviation

SF-36Short form 36 health survey

SPSSStatistical package for the social sciences.

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Autor: Vivian Lindholm - Jouni Lahti - Ossi Rahkonen - Eero Lahelma - Tea Lallukka


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