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Fitness & BMI in Adolescence Tied to Adult Disability

Ann Intern Med; ePub 2019 Feb 12; Henriksson, et al

Low cardiorespiratory fitness, obesity, and the combination of the two were strongly associated with chronic disability later in life, a new study found. Cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index (BMI) were measured in 1,079,128 male adolescents aged 16‒19 years who were conscripted into the military between 1972 and 1994. Researchers found:

  • 54,304 men were granted a disability pension over a median follow-up of 28.3 years.
  • Low cardiorespiratory fitness was strongly associated with later receipt of a later chronic disability due to all causes and specific causes (psychiatric, musculoskeletal injuries, nervous system, circulatory, and tumors).
  • Obesity was associated with greater risk for receipt of a disability pension due to all and specific causes, with the greatest risks observed for class II and III obesity.
  • Being moderately or highly fit was associate with attenuated risk for receipt of a disability pension across BMI categories.


Henriksson P, Henriksson H, Tynelius P, et al. Fitness and body mass index during adolescence and disability later in life: A cohort study. [Published online ahead of print February 12, 2019]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M18-1861.