Cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese Chinese children: a comparison of weight-for-height index and BMI as the screening criterion

Cai-Xia Zhang, Lap-Ah Tse, Xue-Qing Deng, Zhuo-Qin Jiang
European Journal of Nutrition 2008, 47 (5): 244-50

BACKGROUND: Childhood obesity is a widespread and growing problem in the world. Body mass index (BMI) and weight-for-height criterion have been used to determine childhood obesity. No data was available to evaluate cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese Chinese children screened by weight-for-height index and Chinese newly developed BMI criterion.

AIM OF THE STUDY: To evaluate cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese Chinese children by using Chinese BMI and weight-for-height index as screening criterion.

METHODS: A total of 215 children aged 7.5-13 years were recruited from 3 primary schools in Guangzhou, PR China. Measurements included body weight, height, waist and hip circumference, fasting serum glucose, insulin, total triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), apolipoprotein A (apo A), apolipoprotein B (apo B). Chinese BMI and weight-for- height criterion were used to classify overweight and obesity.

RESULTS: According to Chinese BMI criterion, 65 from 108 obese children originally identified by weight-for-height were reclassified as obese and other 41 children were classified as overweight. Compared with non-obese children, obese children screened by Chinese BMI and weight-for-height index had increased levels of TG, LDL-C, apo B, insulin; decreased levels of HDL-C, apo A; and significantly higher prevalence of hypertriglyceridemia and high LDL-C. Children identified as overweight by Chinese BMI criterion had also shown high TG, LDL-C, apo B, insulin levels, low HDL-C, apo A levels, and significantly higher prevalence of hypertriglyceridemia than the normal weight children.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study reveals that overweight and/or obesity screened by both Chinese new BMI and weight-for-height criterion are associated with increased levels of cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., elevated serum TG, LDL, apo B, and reduced HDL-C, apo A levels). Using Chinese BMI criterion may underestimate the prevalence of childhood obesity but it could be adopted as a unique tool for screening children's overweight in population-based screening programs.

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