Introduction: Children with family history of cardiovascular disease (F-CVD) have a higher predisposition to develop CVD risk factors during childhood due to shared genes and/or environmental factors. The purpose of this study was to examine if there is an association between F-CVD and childhood obesity.
Methods: The study used longitudinally linked data from two cross-sectional datasets (the West Virginia (WV) Birth Score Project and the Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities Project in fifth grade) in WV children (N=22,136). The outcome variable was BMI percentile adjusted for age and gender in fifth grade children. Exposure was defined as F-CVD (having family history of one of the six variables: heart disease, coronary heart disease, heart attack, open heart surgery, angioplasty, and death from heart disease). Additional covariates included socio-demographic variables, perinatal risk factors, and child’s current CVD risk factors. An independent sample t-test was used to determine significant difference in the BMI percentile of children with and without F-CVD. Multiple regression analysis was used to assess the adjusted relationships after controlling for covariates. The change in R-square was calculated to determine the unique amount of variance shared between F-CVD and BMI percentile.
Results: Nearly one third (33.3%) of the children had F-CVD. The mean difference of BMI percentile of children with F-CVD vs. no F-CVD was 1.25 (95% CI: 0.46 - 2.04). The change in BMI percentile was 0.97 (95% CI: 0.01 - 1.94) or 0.02 standardized units for children having F-CVD compared to no F-CVD after adjusting for covariates. The predictors accounted for 25.8% of the variance in BMI percentile, and F-CVD uniquely accounted for 0.02% of the variance.
Conclusion: Our results show a significant but small positive association between F-CVD and childhood obesity in fifth grade WV children. Examination of this association is an important step in identifying the role of F-CVD and childhood obesity in the state of WV.