Childhood overweight and obesity did not have an adverse effect on vascular function, despite associations with higher heart rate and BP and worsened inflammatory and metabolic risk factors, according to analysis of a large contemporary cohort of children.
Researchers assessed associations of childhood adiposity with vascular phenotype in prepubertal children using data from the large Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Started in 1991, the birth cohort study includes follow-up data on more than 14,000 live-born children. For this analysis, researchers undertook vascular studies in all term-born children who attended a clinic visit and had adiposity and vascular measures at age 10 to 11 years (n=6,592).
Overall, 80% of children studied were classified as normal weight, 16% overweight and 4% obese. Compared with normal-weight children, overweight and obese children had higher mean heart rates (72.4 bpm and 74.6 bpm vs. 71.7 bpm). Mean systolic BP was also higher in overweight and obese children (106.3 mm Hg and 108 mm Hg vs. 103.6 mm Hg), according to results.
“Children who were overweight or obese at 10 years of age had a hyperemic state, with increased systemic blood flow, greater heart rate and increased BP, but they also had wider brachial artery diameter, increased endothelial function and reduced arterial stiffness compared with normal-weight children,” the researchers wrote.
Mean flow-mediated dilation was 8.2% in obese children vs. 8.1% in normal-weight children, and mean pulse wave velocity was 6.99 m/s vs. 7.05 m/s, respectively.
According to the researchers, the differences found in overweight and obese children as compared with normal-weight children were not explained by metabolic differences.
“Our findings suggest that there may be a window of opportunity in early childhood to target and potentially reverse obesity before adverse vascular consequences manifest,” the researchers concluded.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.