Currently, much attention is focused on the prevention of childhood obesity. A new study has determined factors involved in the development of the metabolic syndrome in children. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a number of negative health factors: elevated blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Individuals with this syndrome have an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Identification of at-risk children can lead to early intervention with preventive measures. The study, published on December 23 in the journal Pediatrics, was conducted by researchers at Dokkyo Medical University, Tochigi, Japan.
The researchers examined the age of adiposity rebound, which is defined as the time at which the body mass index (BMI) begins to increase after infancy; it is considered to be a marker for later obesity. They attempted to determine whether this age is related to the future development of the metabolic syndrome by investigating the relationship of the timing of adiposity rebound with metabolic consequences at 12 years of age.
The study group comprised 271 children (147 boys and 124 girls) who were born in 1995 and 1996. Serial BMI measurements were made at the ages of 4 and 8 months; repeat measurements were made at 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 years, based on which age of adiposity rebound was calculated. Lipid levels and blood pressure were measured at age 12. The investigators found that an earlier adiposity rebound (less than 4 years of age) was associated with a higher BMI (20 or higher) and a lipid profile indicating insulin resistance. This profile consists of elevated triglycerides, apolipoprotein B, and atherogenic index and decreased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in boys and elevated apolipoprotein B in girls at 12 years of age. N earlier adiposity rebound was also linked to elevated blood pressure in boys.
The authors concluded that their study indicated that children who undergo adiposity rebound at a younger age are predisposed to the future development of metabolic syndrome. They suggested that monitoring the adiposity rebound may be an effective method for the early identification of children at risk for metabolic syndrome.
Take home message:
If you have a young child or children, it would be prudent to discuss this study with their pediatrician. If they are at risk for metabolic syndrome, steps can be taken to ward it off.