Association between WHO cut-offs for childhood overweight and obesity and cardiometabolic risk

Mercedes de Onis, Cecilia Martínez-Costa, Francisco Núñez, Georges Nguefack-Tsague, Angeles Montal, Juan Brines
Public Health Nutrition 2013, 16 (4): 625-30

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between cardiovascular risk and childhood overweight and obesity using the BMI cut-offs recommended by the WHO.

DESIGN: Children were classified as normal weight, overweight and obese according to the WHO BMI-for-age reference. Blood pressure, lipids, glucose, insulin, homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and uric acid levels were compared across BMI groups. ANOVA and tests of linearity were used to assess overall mean differences across groups. Crude and adjusted odds ratios were calculated for adverse plasma levels of biochemical variables.

SETTING: Paediatric care centres.

SUBJECTS: Children (n 149) aged 8-18 years.

RESULTS: About 37 %, 22 % and 41 % of children were classified respectively as normal weight, overweight and obese. There were significant linear mean differences between BMI groups in systolic blood pressure, HDL-cholesterol, TAG, insulin, HOMA-IR and uric acid. Obese children were 10·6 times more likely than normal-weight children to have hypertension; OR for other associations were 60·2 (high insulin), 39·5 (HOMA-IR), 27·9 (TAG), 16·0 (HDL-cholesterol), 4·3 (LDL-cholesterol) and 3·6 (uric acid). Overweight children were more likely than normal-weight children to have hypertension (OR = 3·5), high insulin (OR = 28·2), high HOMA-IR (OR = 23·3) and high TAG (OR = 16·1). Nearly 92 % and 57 % of the obese and overweight children, respectively, had one or more risk factor.

CONCLUSIONS: Obesity and overweight defined using the WHO BMI-for-age cut-offs identified children with higher metabolic and vascular risk. These results emphasize the importance of prevention of overweight and obesity in childhood to reduce cardiovascular risk.

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