Impact of Severe Obesity on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Youth

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To compare cardiovascular risk factor clustering (CVRFC) in severely obese youth with those with lower degrees of obesity.

Study design

We divided a childhood obesity clinic derived cohort into the degrees of obesity (class I, II, and III) and added a “class IV” category corresponding to >160% of the 95th centile of body mass index (BMI) for age and sex. In a cross-sectional analysis, we investigated the presence of CVRFC in 2244 participants; in 621 who were followed longitudinally, we investigated the determinants of endpoint CVRFC.


Class IV obesity was associated with increased risk for CVRFC compared with overweight (OR = 17.26, P < .001) at a similar magnitude to class III obesity (OR = 17.26, P < .001). Male children were at greater risk for presence of CVRFC (OR = 1.57, P = .03) compared with female children. Adiponectin (OR = 0.90, P < .001) and leptin levels (OR = 0.98, P = .008) were protective, independent of degree of obesity. Baseline class IV obesity was associated with increased risk compared with overweight of having CVRFC at follow-up (OR = 5.76, P = .001), to a similar extent as class III obesity (OR = 5.36, P = .001). Changes in the degree of obesity were significant predictors of CVRFC on follow-up (OR = 1.04, P < .01 per percent BMI change).


The metabolic risk associated with obesity in childhood is conferred prior to reaching class IV obesity. An individualized risk stratification approach in children with severe obesity should be based on presence of complications rather than simple BMI cutoffs.

Trial Registration NCT01967849.

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