Physical Fitness or Obesity: Which Better Determines Health Outcomes? A Penn Positive Health Lecture

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | | 215-573-6604September 14, 2009



Steven N. Blair, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics will discuss the growing rates of obesity in the United States and abroad. While these problems have received enormous attention from the public, clinicians, and public health professionals, much of the research on obesity and health outcomes is flawed by failure to adequately take physical activity habits into account. Blair will present fresh data in which cardiorespiratory fitness, an objective laboratory measure of recent physical activity habits, is used as a possible confounder of the obesity-health relationship. Blair shows that, 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.

The Positive Health Lecture Series is organized by Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania professor and founder of the positive psychology movement and Penn’s Positive Psychology Center. The series, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to improve health and quality of life by focusing on health strengths and low-cost interventions.


Steven N. Blair is professor in the departments of Exercise Science and Epidemiology/Biostatistics in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Blair is one of the most highly cited exercise scientists, with more than 22,000 citations to his body of work.


Wednesday, Sept. 16, noon to 1 p.m.


Dunlop Auditorium, Stemmler Hall
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
36th and Spruce streets