Brawn matters: Stronger adolescents and teens have less risk of diabetes, heart disease

March 31, 2014

Adolescents with stronger muscles have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to a new study that examined the influence of muscle strength in sixth grade boys and girls.

Stronger kids also have lower (weight to height ratio), lower percent body fat, smaller waist circumferences, and higher fitness levels, according to the study that appears in Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed health data for more than 1,400 children ages 10 to 12, including their percent body fat, glucose level, blood pressure, and triglycerides (a type of fat, or lipid, which may increase risk of ). Those with greater strength-to-body-mass ratios – or pound-for-pound strength capacities— had significantly lower risks of heart disease and diabetes.

"It's a widely-held belief that BMI, sedentary behaviors and low cardiovascular fitness levels are linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but our findings suggest possibly may play an equally important role in cardiometabolic health in children," says lead author Mark D. Peterson, Ph.D, M.S., research assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The study's corresponding author was Paul M. Gordon, Ph.D., M.P.H, who is a Professor at Baylor University in Texas. Gordon suggests that strengthening activities may be equally important to physical activity participation.

The research is based on data from the Cardiovascular Health Intervention Program (CHIP), a study of sixth graders from 17 mid-area Michigan schools between 2005 and 2008.

Participants were tested for strength capacity using a standardized handgrip strength assessment, which is recently recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Researchers also measured cardiorespiratory fitness – how well the body is able to transport oxygen to muscles during prolonged exercise, and how well muscles are able to absorb and use it.

The study is one of the the first to show a robust link between strength capacity and a lower chance of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke (cardiometabolic risk) in adolescents, after controlling for the influence of BMI, physical activity participation, and cardiorespiratory fitness.

"The stronger you are relative to your body mass, the healthier you are," Peterson says. "Exercise, sports, and even recreational activity that supports early muscular strength acquisition, should complement traditional weight loss interventions among children and teens in order to reduce risks of serious diseases throughout adolescence."

Previous, large-scale studies have found low muscular in teen boys is a risk factor for several major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases.

Explore further: Inadequate sleep predicts risk of heart disease, diabetes in obese adolescents

More information: "Strength Capacity and Cardiometabolic Risk Clustering in Adolescents," Pediatrics, March 31, 2014, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-3169

Related Stories

Inadequate sleep predicts risk of heart disease, diabetes in obese adolescents

March 6, 2014
Obese adolescents not getting enough sleep? A study in today's The Journal of Pediatrics, shows they could be increasing their risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Low muscle strength in adolescence linked to increased risk of early death

November 20, 2012
Low muscle strength in adolescence is strongly associated with a greater risk of early death from several major causes, suggests a large study published on the British Medical Journal website today.

Large waist linked to poor health, even among those in healthy body mass index ranges

March 12, 2014
Having a big belly has consequences beyond trouble squeezing into your pants. It's detrimental to your health, even if you have a healthy body mass index (BMI), a new international collaborative study led by a Mayo Clinic ...

When it comes to the good cholesterol, fitness trumps weight

October 9, 2013
There's no question that high levels of good cholesterol—also known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—seem to be protective against heart disease. Rather than depositing fat into the blood vessels the way the "bad" cholesterol ...

Direct fitness measures better predict cardiometabolic risk

February 21, 2014
(HealthDay)—Directly measured fitness is more strongly associated with cardiovascular risk than self-reported physical activity level, according to research published in the Feb. 15 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy could help babies become stronger

January 3, 2014
Children are likely to have stronger muscles if their mothers had a higher level of vitamin D in their body during pregnancy, according to new research from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) ...

Recommended for you

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.