Over 25% of 6-year-olds had at least one risk factor in study
Over a quarter of young children in a study had abnormal metabolic profiles, researchers reported.
In a cohort of 212 Swedish children around 6 years old, 26% possessed at least one of the criteria for metabolic syndrome — including hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, or a large waist circumference — at a level requiring medical intervention, found Emma Kjellberg, MD, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues.
Among the kids possessing at least one of these risk factors, over 27% even ticked off the boxes for two or more of the criteria for metabolic syndrome, while one child in the study had all the factors.
“We conducted this study in a healthy child cohort as there was a debate about whether metabolic syndrome was present in prepubertal children or not and whether there was a need to investigate more than waist circumference in children under 10 years of age,” explained Kjellberg in an interview with MedPage Today.
Certain factors of metabolic syndrome that were categorized as requiring medical action by the IDEFICS (Identification and Prevention of Dietary and Lifestyle-induced Health Effects in Children and Infants) study were also more closely associated with each other, the researchers wrote in their report in Acta Paediatrica.
Young children who had larger waist circumferences requiring action — defined as ≥59 cm for girls and ≥60 cm for boys — were more likely to have elevated systolic (105 ± 9.4 versus 100 ± 7.5 mm Hg P=0.004) and diastolic blood pressure (66 ± 5.6 versus 64 ± 6.5 mm Hg, P=0.04) compared with children with waist circumferences in the normal range.
Additionally, the overweight and obese children in the cohort were more likely to have insulin resistance, as well as elevated triglycerides compared with normal weight children, as follows:
- Triglycerides: 8.0 mmol/L [obese]; 0.5 mmol/L [overweight]; 0.5 mmol/L [normal] (P=0.02)
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: 3.0 ± 0.4 mmol/L; 2.6 ± 0.6 mmol/L; 2.4 ± 0.6 mmol/L (P=0.04)
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: 1.3 ± 0.2 mmol/L; 1.7 ± 0.4 mmol/L; 1.6 ± 0.4 mmol/L (P=0.04)
- Insulin: 7.5 mU/L; 6.0 mU/L; 4.0 mU/L (P=0.001)
- Homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance: 1.2; 1.2; 0.9 (P<0.001)
Kjellberg explained that her group “had expected to see insulin resistance in the children with obesity but were surprised by the high rate of insulin resistance in children with overweight.”
It is important, therefore, to have effective intervention methods to prevent metabolic syndrome, as well as obesity, the researchers emphasized. In addition, they added, “more studies are needed to confirm our findings, including those focusing on even younger age groups, and to identify at what age and BMI level metabolic syndrome starts to develop.”
The primary funding for the study was from Region Västra Götaland, The Swedish Research Council, Southern Health Care Region Sweden, and Regional Research Board Halland.