(HealthDay News) – Maintaining or improving fitness and preventing fat gain are both associated with a lower likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in healthy adults, according to a study published in the Feb. 14 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Duck-chul Lee, Ph.D., of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues assessed 3,148 healthy adults over six years and three medical examinations to examine the correlation between fitness and fatness with CVD. A maximal treadmill test was used to assess fitness, and fatness was defined by percent body fat and body mass index. Based on the changes in fitness and fatness between the first and second examinations, participants were categorized into loss, stable, or gain groups.

The researchers found that over the six-year follow-up, 752 adults developed hypertension, 426 developed metabolic syndrome, and 597 developed hypercholesterolemia. After adjusting for possible confounders and fatness or fitness for each other, maintaining or improving fitness was associated with a reduced risk of developing each outcome, whereas increasing fatness was linked to an elevated risk of developing each outcome. When fitness was maintained or improved, the increased risks associated with fat gain appeared to be offset, although not completely eliminated. Similarly, when fat was reduced, there was an attenuation of the increased risks associated with loss of fitness.

“Both maintaining or improving fitness and preventing fat gain are important to reduce the risk of developing CVD risk factors in healthy adults,” the authors write.

One study author disclosed financial ties to the weight loss industry. The study was partially funded by The Coca-Cola Company.

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