Children with fatter midsections at increased risk for cardiovascular disease

September 11, 2009

Children with more fat around their midsections could be at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life, researchers say.

"While general obesity certainly has its own set of risks for the heart, we now know that all fat is not created equally," says Dr. Reda Bassali, an associate professor of pediatrics in the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine and co-author of a study published online in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.

Increased waist circumference has long been linked to cardiovascular risk in adults because visceral fat — found in and around organs in the abdominal cavity — is more metabolically active, which can dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and .

The study suggests routine waist measurements in could predict which ones had developed risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as higher fasting insulin levels, a precursor for diabetes; lower levels of high density lipo-protiens, also known as the good cholesterol; and higher levels of triglycerides, the fatty particles found in the blood.

"What we are asking is whether the children with larger waists already showed signs that put them at higher risk," Dr. Bassali, also a pediatrician at the MCGHealth Children's Medical Center, says. "To find out whether children eventually developed cardiovascular disease, we'd have to follow them long term."

In a sample of 188 obese children, ages 7-11, those with the largest waist circumferences - above the 90th percentile for their age - were three times more likely to have high triglycerides and nearly four times more likely to have lower levels of HDL. They were also 3.7 times more likely to have high fasting insulin levels.

"What that means is that children with a waist circumference at or above the 90th percentile are at a greater risk of developing the warning signs of ," Dr. Bassali says. "Our results indicate that routine clinical measurement of the waist may help clinicians identify which obese children are at a greater risk."

Unfortunately, he says, there is no way to change how , or adults for that matter, gain weight.

"There is a lot of discussion about the apple versus the pear body shape, with the pear being more desirable," Dr. Bassali says. "Unfortunately, we don't have a real explanation why some people gain weight in the center of their body and others gain it, for instance, in their thighs. It could be environmental. It could be genetic. It could be a combination of the two."

These results, however, could provide researchers and clinicians with another way to measure possible risk and possibly prevent future health complications.

"The gold standard, when it comes to intervention strategies, has always been whether a child fell into a certain range with their body mass index (calculated using height and weight)," he says. "These results suggest that could provide an additional measurement of risk. The intervention strategies would be the same."

Source: Medical College of Georgia

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

Electronic health records don't reduce administrative costs

February 21, 2018
The federal government thought that adopting certified electronic health record systems (EHR) would reduce administrative costs for physicians in a variety of specialties. However, a major new study conducted by researchers ...

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

February 20, 2018
New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.