Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Location: Dunlop Auditorium in Stemmler Hall at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, near 36th
and Spruce Street in Philadelphia. See below for details on location and parking.
Title: Physical Fitness or Obesity: Which Is the More Important Determinant of Health Outcomes?
Topic: It is clear that the U.S. and many other countries are experiencing increases in rates of overweight and
obesity. These problems have received enormous attention and commentary from the public, clinicians, and public
health professionals. Unfortunately much of the research on obesity and health outcomes is flawed by failure to
adequately take physical activity habits into account. Many reports in the peer-reviewed literature on obesity and
health do not even mention physical activity as a possible confounding variable, and those that include physical
activity typically have measured it by self-report, which leads to much misclassification and underestimation of the
true effects of physical activity on the outcome. Professor Blair will present data from numerous studies in which
cardiorespiratory fitness, an objective laboratory measure of recent physical activity habits, is used as a possible
confounder of the obesity-health relationship. Adjusting health risks of obesity for fitness dramatically ameliorates,
or even eliminates, the association of obesity to health outcomes. In fact, obese individuals who are at least
moderately fit have death rates about one half those observed in normal weight individuals who are unfit.
This lecture series is part of the Positive Health project of the Positive Psychology Center, funded by RWJF’s
Pioneer Portfolio, which supports innovative ideas that may lead to significant breakthroughs in the future of health
and health care. This project will lay the groundwork for an approach to improving health and quality of life that
focuses on health strengths and low-cost interventions.
Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.
Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology
Director, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania
For more information please visit: http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/positivehealthlectures.pdf