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About the Speaker


Dr Mark Stoutenburg

Associate Professor and MPH Program Director
University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Mark Stoutenberg, PhD, MSPH, earned his PhD in Exercise Physiology (in 2008), a Master of Science in Public Health (in 2011), and spent eight years as a faculty member in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami.

Beginning January 2018, Dr. Stoutenberg serves as the inaugural director of the public health program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His early research focused on conducting randomized control trials in individuals seeking treatment for substance use. More recently, his focus has shifted to the field of implementation science and examining the facilitators and barriers involved with connecting patients from various health settings to existing, community-based resources.

Dr. Stoutenberg also serves as a Program Officer for Exercise is Medicine (EIM), a signature initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine, where he coordinates and provides technical support to the EIM Global Health Network, which consists of collaborating centers in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Presentation Abstract

The Fit but Fat Paradox: Cardiorespiratory Fitness as a Major Marker of Cardiovascular Disease

Evidence links obesity to multiple health problems, including risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and all-cause mortality. However, many studies examining obesity and health have not adequately accounted for current physical activity/fitness levels. Similar to obesity, physical inactivity also has a dose-related and biologically plausible relationship to these same health outcomes.

Both obesity and physical inactivity have similar associations with clinical risk indicators such as blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, and inflammatory markers. Further, a multitude of recent studies show that regular physical activity has health benefits at any weight, with unfit individuals having twice the risk of death regardless of their body mass index. The relative contribution of fitness and obesity to overall health and risk actually should be a trivial matter because a common treatment is available for both low fitness and excess body weight.

Physical activity promotion should be a foundation of clinical therapy and public health policy, whether to promote health or weight control. As part of a weight-neutral approach to address excess weight gain, clinicians and public health officials should focus on physical activity-based interventions rather than weight loss driven approaches to reduce mortality risk.