Body Mass Index, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in a Pediatric Population in Southern Italy

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Objectives:Obesity and exposure to cardiovascular risk factors during adolescence may be associated with the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases later in life. The objective of the study was to investigate whether any excess body weight, including moderate overweight, is associated with a more severe cardiovascular risk profile and signs of early atherosclerosis in a pediatric population.Patients and Methods:A cross-sectional study was conducted among 646 adolescents ages 11 to 13 years from several primary schools of Reggio Calabria, Italy. Body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, insulin, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein (CRP) were determined. All of the subjects underwent carotid ultrasonography for the measurement of intima-media thickness. Complete clinical data were available from 575 subjects.Results:Overweight was similarly frequent in boys and girls (31.2% vs 31.0%), whereas prevalence of obesity was higher in boys (18.4% vs 10.1%). Subjects with lower levels of HDL and higher levels of triglycerides, insulin, and CRP plasma were observed more frequently among overweight and obese subjects than nonoverweight. At multivariate analysis, HDL cholesterol, insulin, and CRP were associated (P < 0.05) with overweight and obesity in girls, whereas in boys, insulin and CRP were associated (P < 0.05) with overweight and obesity, and LDL cholesterol with obesity. The association between overweight or obesity and increased intima-media thickness, a sign of early atherosclerosis, was present in girls (P < 0.05) and was close to statistical significance in obese boys (P = 0.07).Conclusions:Overweight and obese adolescents have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and show signs of early atherosclerosis. In girls, in particular, overweight is sufficient to determine a more severe cardiovascular risk profile.

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