Endothelial dysfunction predicts mortality but it is unknown whether childhood obesity predicts adult endothelial dysfunction. The aim of this study was to determine whether anthropometric indices of body fat in childhood, adolescence and early midlife are associated with endothelial dysfunction in early midlife.SUBJECTS/METHODS:
Participants belonged to a representative birth cohort of 1037 individuals born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1972 and 1973 and followed to age 38 years, with 95% retention (the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study). We assessed anthropometric indices of obesity at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26, 32 and 38 years. We tested associations between endothelial function assessed by peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT) at age 38 and; age 38 cardiovascular risk factors; age 3 body mass index (BMI); and four BMI trajectory groups from childhood to early midlife.RESULTS:
Early midlife endothelial dysfunction was associated with BMI, large waist circumference, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low cardiorespiratory fitness and increased high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. After adjustment for sex and childhood socioeconomic status, 3-year-olds with BMI 1 s.d. above the mean had Framingham-reactive hyperemia index (F-RHI) ratios that were 0.10 below those with normal BMI (β = -0.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.17 to -0.03, P = 0.007) at age 38. Cohort members in the ‘overweight', ‘obese' and ‘morbidly obese' trajectories had F-RHI ratios that were 0.08 (β = -0.08, 95% CI -0.14 to -0.03, P = 0.003), 0.13 (β = -0.13, 95% CI -0.21 to -0.06, P < 0.001) and 0.17 (β = -0.17, 95% CI -0.33 to -0.01, P = 0.033), respectively, below age-peers in the ‘normal' trajectory.CONCLUSIONS:
Childhood BMI and the trajectories of BMI from childhood to early midlife predict endothelial dysfunction evaluated by PAT in early midlife.