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11-11-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

High BMI linked to CV risk factors in children


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MedWire News: A high body mass index (BMI) is associated with markers of adiposity and cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in children aged 8-12 years, research shows.

Emanuela Falaschetti (Institute of Child Health, London, UK) and colleagues say that the associations mirror those seen in adulthood, suggesting that interventions to maintain healthy weight in childhood could have important benefits for CV risk later in life.

The team measured the BMI, waist circumference, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)-determined fat mass, and leptin concentrations in up to 7589 children (aged 8.8-11.7 years) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). They then compared associations between these measurements of adiposity with a range of CV risk factors and biomarkers.

Overall, there was a high prevalence of overweight and obesity, with 15.9% of children overweight and 5.2% obese.

Waist circumference, DXA fat mass, and leptin concentrations were all higher among overweight and obese children than those of normal weight, and these variables correlated highly with one another.

An increase of 1 kg/m2 in BMI was associated with a 1.4-mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure, a 0.05-mmol/l (1.9-mg/dl) increase in non-HDL cholesterol levels, and a 0.03-mmol/l (1.2-mg/dl) decrease in levels of HDL cholesterol.

Boys and girls who were obese were respectively 10.7- and 13.5-times more likely to be over the threshold for childhood hypertension than were normal weight children.

They were also a corresponding 3.7- and 5.9-times more likely to have hypertriglyceridemia and 7.5- and 10.2-times more likely to have low HDL cholesterol than were their normal weight counterparts.

Writing in the European Heart Journal, the team reports that the relationships between BMI and CV risk factors were largely linear, and similar in directions, shapes, gradients, and patterns to those seen in adulthood.

"Although the alterations observed in childhood are occurring far in advance of the period of life at which clinical events occur, and the absolute risk of a CV event below the age of 45 years has been low, atheroma is known to accumulate from as early as the second decade of life," the researchers say.

They therefore suggest that adiposity begins to promote an adverse CV and metabolic profile early on in life, and suggest that future research should evaluate whether interventions to reduce adiposity in children have important benefits for adult CV risk.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Nikki Withers

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