Research Study Abstract

Combined Influence of Healthy Diet and Active Lifestyle on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Adolescents: The Helena Study

  • Added on July 5, 2012

Aim To investigate the combined influence of diet quality and physical activity on cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk factors in European adolescents.

Method Cross-sectional study that included 1513 adolescents aged 12.5‒17.5 years (45% boys) from eight European countries participating in the HELENA study. Dietary intake was registered using a 24h recall (on two non-consecutive days and a diet quality index was calculated. Daily physical activity was assessed by accelerometry. Lifestyle groups were computed as follows: 0=healthy diet and active, 1=unhealthy diet but active, 2=healthy diet but inactive, 3=unhealthy diet and inactive. CVD risk factors measurements included cardiorespiratory fitness, adiposity indicators, lipid profile, blood pressure and insulin resistance. A CVD risk score was computed by mean of z-scores of the following risk factors: cardiorespiratory fitness, sum of four skinfolds, triglyceride, total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio (TC/HDLc ratio), systolic blood pressure and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA).

Results The healthy diet and active group had a more favourable cardiorespiratory profile, fat mass index and triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p≤0.05). Overall, active adolescents showed higher cardiorespiratory fitness, lower fat mass index, healthier TC/HDLc ratio and blood pressure and lower HOMA levels than their inactive peers with either healthy or unhealthy diet (all p≤0.05). Healthier CVD risk score was observed in the healthy diet and active group compared with the inactive groups (all p≤0.02).

Conclusion A combined influence of healthy diet and active lifestyle could be the key to prevent the risk of CVD. Moreover, an active lifestyle may reduce the adverse consequence of an unhealthy diet, but a healthy diet does not seem to overcome the adverse consequences of an inactive lifestyle.


  • Cuenca García, M.
  • Ortega, F.
  • Ruiz, J.
  • Labayen, I.
  • Jago, R.
  • Martínez-Gómez, D.
  • Dallongeville, J.
  • Bel-Serrat, S.
  • Moreno, L.A.
  • Kersting, M.
  • González-Gross, M.
  • Castillo, M.
  • Sjöström, M. et al


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    UPV/EHU (Vitoria)

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    FKE (Bonn)

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