Fitness, obesity and risk of asthma among Army trainees

N. Urban, M. R. Boivin, D. N. Cowan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiological data suggest an association between overweight/obesity and asthma. However, less is known about the relationship between physical fitness and asthma. Aims: To enumerate new-onset asthma diagnoses in Army recruits during the first 2 years of service and determine associations with fitness and excess body fat (EBF) at military entrance. Methods: New asthma diagnoses over 2 years in Army recruits at six entrance stations were obtained from military health and personnel records. Poisson regression models were used to determine associations of asthma diagnosis with pre-accession fitness testing, EBF and other potential factors. Results: In 9979 weight-qualified and 1117 EBF entrants with no prior history of asthma, 256 new cases of asthma were diagnosed within 2 years of military entry. Low level of fitness, defined by a step test and EBF, was significantly associated with new asthma diagnosis [adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR), 1.47; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11-1.96 and adjusted IRR, 1.53; 95% CI 1.06-2.20, respectively]. Conclusions: Individuals with low fitness levels, EBF or both are at higher risk of asthma diagnosis in the first 2 years of military service. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Body fat
  • Fitness test
  • Military
  • Obesity


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