Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition
The prevalence of childhood obesity has recently peaked in the USA with ~17% of children considered obese. With the increase in adiposity that occurs with weight gain, a persistent low-grade inflammatory state is created. The most commonly studied inflammatory markers associated with obesity are the cytokines, tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin-6, and the acute-phase reactant, C-reactive protein. Understanding the relation between adiposity and inflammation is an important concept because these inflammatory markers influence insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism, and atherosclerosis, ultimately leading to impaired health. In addition to obesity, physical inactivity is associated with elevated inflammatory markers. The literature, however, is inconsistent as to whether the association between physical activity and inflammation is independent of adiposity. In some obese children, physical fitness appears to circumvent the increase in inflammatory markers that are associated with obesity. The purpose of this review is to examine the relation between adiposity and inflammatory markers, including potential health implications and the impact of physical activity. We exposed a dearth of literature in understanding the interaction between obesity and physical activity on inflammatory markers, especially in children because their anthropometrics change. This review highlights the necessity for further research to better understand the complexity of the chronic inflammatory state associated with obesity.