Predicting Cardiovascular Risk Factors by Different Body Fat Patterns in 3850 German Children: the PEP Family Heart Study

Gerda-Maria Haas, Evelyn Liepold, Peter Schwandt



Background: Increased central adiposity is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in youths. Since simple and inexpensive but accurate diagnostic tools are required for general use we examined body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and skin-fold thickness (SFT) for their utility predicting CVD risk factors in children.

Methods: A representative sample of 3850 children (1981 males) aged 3-11years

participated in this cross-sectional study. The association of CVD risk factors with BMI>85th, WC>90th, WHtR >90th and SFT>90th percentile was examined by multivariate logistic regression models. SPSS 17 was used for statistical analyses; p < 0.05 was used for significance.

Results In children the prevalence of general adiposity (4.1%) was considerably lower than the prevalence of central adiposity (WC 11.8%, WHtR 9.5% and SFT sum 9.8%). Girls had   more adverse lipid profiles and CVD risk factors than boys. Age- and gender adjusted hypertension was significantly associated with adiposity (OR 2.8) and increased skin-fold thickness (OR 1.7). Among the four fat patterning variables WHtR >90th percentile was the strongest predictor of increased LDL-C (OR 2.0), Non HDL-C (OR 2.1), LDL-C/HDL-C ratio (OR 3.3), TG/HDL-C ratio (OR 2.0) and risk factor clustering (OR 1.7).

Conclusions: High waist-to-height ratio is the strongest predictor of traditional cardiovascular risk factors already in childhood, followed by increased skin-fold thickness and body mass index.

Word count: 221 words

Key words: Skin-fold thickness, waist-to-height, prediction, cardiovascular risk factors, youth

Full Text: