by Lewis Chang, PhD
Body mass index (BMI) is positively associated with cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance in children according to a recent population-based study, but cardiorespiratory fitness may mitigate risk.1
Swedish researchers from the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition at Karolinska Institutet (Huddinge, Sweden) and colleagues from Spain and Chile conducted a pooled study including cross-sectional data from three projects (n=1247, aged 8-11 years old) to evaluate the impact of BMI on cardiometabolic risk and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in children. Their cardiometabolic risk was measured using the sum of the sex- and age-specific z scores for triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, glucose, and the average of systolic/diastolic blood pressure and HOMA-IR.
Key study findings:1
- BMI was significantly, positively associated with higher cardiometabolic risk scores
- Children who were unfit but had normal weight had a significantly lower cardiometabolic risk than children were fit but had obesity
- Among children with obesity, those who were fit had a significantly lower cardiometabolic risk than those who were unfit
- CRF reduced the cardiometabolic risk in children; the reduction was the most significant in children with mild obesity
- Similar results were seen for HOMA-IR
Results from observational studies such as the current study need to be confirmed by other population-based studies or clinical trials. Nevertheless, the impact of obesity in children is evident, and should be address as early as possible.
Why is this Clinically Relevant?
- Both short- and long-term impacts of childhood obesity are highly significant socially, physically and emotionally
- These findings highlight the need for obesity prevention and treatment programs in children and the potential benefits of proactively addressing cardiorespiratory fitness early on
- Nystrom CD, Henricksson P, Martinez-Vizcaino V, et al. Does cardiorespiratory fitness attenuate the adverse effects of severe/morbid obesity on cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance in children? A pooled analysis. Diabetes Care. 2017;40(11): 1580-1587.