Research Study Abstract

Association of Concurrent Healthy Eating and Regular Physical Activity With Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in U.S. Youth

  • Published on Nov. 5, 2014

Purpose: Examine whether concurrently consuming a healthy diet and regularly being physically active among U.S. youth is more favorably associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers than other physical activity and dietary patterns.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: United States (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) 2003–2006.

Subjects: Two thousand six hundred twenty-nine youth (6–17 years).

Measures: Healthy Eating Index (HEI), accelerometer-determined physical activity, biomarkers, and anthropometry. Four categories were created: consuming a healthy diet (top 40% of HEI) and active (sufficient to meet guidelines); unhealthy diet and active; healthy diet and inactive; and unhealthy diet and inactive.

Analysis: Multivariable regression.

Results: Children consuming a healthy diet and who were active had significantly lower waist circumference (β = −5.5, p < .006), C-reactive protein (CRP) (β = −.2, p < .006), and triglycerides (β = −27.9, p < .006) than children consuming an unhealthy diet and who were inactive. Children engaging in both healthy behaviors had significantly lower CRP (β = −.11, p < .001) and total cholesterol levels (β = −7.8, p = .004) than those only engaging in sufficient activity; there were no significant differences in biomarker levels among children engaging in both healthy behaviors and those only consuming a healthy diet. No associations were significant for adolescents.

Conclusion: Concurrent healthy eating and regular physical activity among children is favorably associated with CVD biomarkers when compared with unhealthy diet and inactivity.


  • Paul D. Loprinzi, PhD 1
  • I-Min Lee, MBBS, ScD 2
  • Ross E. Andersen, PhD 3
  • Carlos J. Crespo, DrPH 4
  • Ellen Smit, PhD, RD 5


  • 1

    Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, School of Applied Sciences, The University of Mississippi, University, MS

  • 2

    Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

  • 3

    Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

  • 4

    School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

  • 5

    Program in Epidemiology, School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon


American Journal of Health Promotion


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