An Assessment of the Relationship of Physical Activity, Obesity, and Chronic Diseases/Conditions between Active/Obese and Sedentary/Normal Weigh American Women in a National Sample

Document Type



Objective Obesity and physical inactivity are associated with increased rates of chronic diseases and conditions. However, the ‘fit but fat’ theory posits that cardiopulmonary fitness (or physical activity) can mitigate risks to health associated with obesity. The purpose of this study was to compare chronic diseases and conditions of highly active/obese women with inactive/normal weight women. Study design This was a cross-sectional study of the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data. Methods Weighted descriptive statistics were performed to describe the demographic characteristics of the two groups. We calculated odds ratios and adjusted odds ratios for chronic diseases and conditions comparing highly active/obese women with inactive/normal weight women. Results Highly active/obese women were more likely to report risk factors (hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes) for coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) than inactive/normal weight women; however, they did not have increased rates of CVD, CHD, or heart attack and had decreased risk for stroke. Highly active/obese women had increased risk for asthma, arthritis, and depression, but not for cancer, kidney disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Conclusions Highly active/obese women appear to be staving off the actual development of CHD and CVD; however, further research is needed to understand the long-term health benefits of physical activity among obese women.


Physical activity; Chronic diseases; Obesity; Women's health; United States


Community Health

UNLV article access

Search your library