Overweight in children is associated with arterial endothelial dysfunction and intima-media thickening

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We sought to study arterial endothelial function and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), both early markers of atherosclerosis, in overweight compared to normal children.


Case-control comparison.


A total of 36 asymptomatic overweight children (body mass index (BMI)>23; mean 25±3) aged 9-12 y and 36 age- and gender-matched nonobese healthy children (BMI<21) from a school community.


The key parameters were: BMI, arterial endothelial function (ultrasound-derived endothelium-dependent dilation) and carotid artery IMT. The secondary parameters measured included body fat content, waist-hip ratio (WHR), blood pressures, blood lipids, insulin and glucose.


The two groups were well matched for blood pressures, cholesterol and glucose levels, but BMI (P<0.0001), body fat (P=0.001), WHR (P<0.05), fasting blood insulin (P=0.001) and triglyceride levels (P<0.05) were higher in obese children. Overweight was associated with impaired arterial endothelial function (6.6±2.3 vs 9.7±3.0%, P<0.0001) and increased carotid IMT (0.49±0.04 mm vs 0.45±0.04 mm, P=0.006). The degree of endothelial dysfunction correlated with BMI (P<0.003) on multivariate analysis.


Obesity, even of mild-to-moderate degree, is independently associated with abnormal arterial function and structure in otherwise healthy young children.

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