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To determine whether childhood muscular fitness phenotypes (strength, endurance, power) are independently associated with adult metabolic syndrome (MetS).Longitudinal study including 737 participants who had muscular fitness measures in 1985 when aged 9, 12, or 15 years and attended follow-up in young adulthood 20 years later when measures of MetS were collected. Childhood measures of muscular fitness included strength (right and left grip, leg, shoulder extension and flexion), endurance (number of push-ups in thirty seconds), and power (distance of a standing long jump). A muscular fitness score was created using all individual muscular fitness phenotypes. In adulthood, waist circumference, blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose were measured. Adult outcomes were MetS defined using the Harmonized definition and a continuous metabolic syndrome (cMetS) risk score.Participants with childhood muscular strength, muscular power and combined muscular fitness score in the highest third had significantly lower relative risk (RR) for MetS and a lower cMetS score in adulthood independent of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), than those in the lowest third (strength: RR=0.39 (0.19,0.78); β=-0.39 (-0.52, -0.25), power: RR=0.32 (0.15,0.68); β=-0.39 (-0.53, -0.26), fitness score: RR=0.30 (0.14,0.63); β=-0.45 (-0.58, -0.31)). However, adjustment for childhood waist circumference reduced the effect sizes for both adult outcomes by 44-51%.Phenotypes of childhood muscular fitness predict adult MetS independent of CRF. Although approximately half of the effect of childhood muscular fitness on adult MetS is potentially being mediated by child waist circumference, these data suggest promotion of muscular fitness among children might provide additional protection against developing adult MetS.


Journal article


Medicine and science in sports and exercise

Publication Date



1Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; 2Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; 3George Institute for Global Health, Oxford Martin School and Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom; 4Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.