Objective: Parental cardiovascular disease (CVD) may indicate children’s CVD risk. This study examined whether parental obesity and disease were associated with child CVD risk factors, independent of child obesity, and whether associations differed by race.
Methods: The sample included 395 White and Black 5-18 year-old children. Parental obesity was determined by self-reported height and weight, while their disease status was self-reported diagnosis of coronary heart disease (CHD), hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Child’s risk factors included waist circumference (WC); resting systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) percentiles; and fasting triglycerides, HDL-C, LDL-C, total cholesterol, glucose and C-reactive protein (CRP). BMI z-scores (BMI-z) were calculated using CDC growth charts. Analysis of variance, unadjusted and adjusted for BMI-z, was used to examine associations of parental obesity and disease with each child risk factor, stratified by race.
Results: Black children had higher BMI-z than White children (1.1 vs. 0.8, p<0.01) and were more likely to have parents with obesity (p<0.0001) and hypercholesterolemia (p<0.05), but not CHD or hypertension. Parental obesity was significantly associated with WC, SBP and DBP in White and Black children and with CRP in White children (all p<0.05). When adjusted for BMI-z, parental obesity was significantly associated with SBP in White children (p<0.05). Parental CHD was significantly associated with WC in Black children in both unadjusted and adjusted models (p<0.05), with CRP in Black children in unadjusted models (p<0.05), and with triglycerides in White children in adjusted models (p<0.05). Parental hypertension was associated with WC and triglycerides in White children in unadjusted models (p<0.05), and with no risk factors in adjusted models. Parental hypercholesterolemia was not associated with risk factors, except LDL-C in White children in adjusted models (p<0.05).
Conclusion: Parental obesity and disease were associated with CVD risk factors in White and Black children, but child BMI-z attenuated many associations to non-significance. Further research is needed to investigate the additive utility of parental medical history to stratify children’s CVD risk.