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Waist circumference is associated with cardiometabolic risk in children and adolescents

Harold Mandel's picture
Excess fat on the waist

There has been a rise in cardiometabolic disease in kids which has been associated with the obesity epidemic. It is important to be able to detect kids who are at risk for cardiometabolic disease as early as possible in order to attempt to circumvent the progession towards this illness and associated complications. Research has shown simply checking for obesity is not as accurate a predictor of this problem as a measurement of the waist circumference of kids.

It has been indicated by research that central adiposity has increased to a higher degree than general adiposity in children and adolescents during recent decades. Yet, waist circumference is not a routine measurement in clinical pediatric practice. In a study of Spanish children and adolescents the high proportion of abdominal obesity in young patients who are normal weight or overweight has indicated a need to include waist circumference measurements in routine clinical practice, reports PLOS One.

The researchers have written that measuring waist circumference would improve the detection of children and adolescents who are at risk for cardiometabolic disease, reports Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute. It has been observed that abdominal obesity has increased significantly in recent years among children and adolescents, and yet this indicator is not used in clinical practice.

A study which was led by researchers from Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute has concluded that including waist circumference measurements in clinical practice, along with the traditional height and weight measurements, would make it easier to detect children and adolescents who are at cardiometabolic risk, or who have a higher predisposition to suffer from arteriosclerosis or type 2 diabetes. Abdominal obesity in children and adolescents has been recognized as one of the most important risk factors associated to this disorder.

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Helmut Schröder, a researcher, has said, “In Spain, 21.3% of children aged 6 to 11 and 14.3% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have abdominal obesity. From the total of Spanish children with a normal weight or overweight, 7.5% of those with a normal weight had abdominal obesity, while from those overweight, 49.2% have abdominal obesity." He says none of them would have been identified using the traditional screening methods.

Lluís Serra-Majem, also a researcher, has said contrary to what may be thought, “there are people, both adults and young people, whose weight is totally normal and yet have abdominal obesity and vice-versa; people who are overweight and with fat distributed in all their body who, therefore face a lower cardiometabolic risk”. Abdominal fat has been determined to be important when suffering from cardiovascular or metabolic diseases at a young age and it has been observed that, when using traditional measurements, a number of children and adolescents with this cardiometabolic risk are not detected.

The epidemic of child obesity has been disturbing across the world. The results of this study have compelled researchers to believe that it is important to include waist circumference measurements in routine clinical practice. This is a quick test, with no added costs. This measurement would allow greater control of this risk group which currently goes undetected and would allow prevention of future cardiometabolic events at an early age or later on in life.

Childhood obesity is a critical issue which is leaving more lives of kids at risk than ever before. A realization of the significance of abdominal obesity in regard to an association with cardiometabolic disease should prompt primary care physicians to consider adding measurements of a childs waist in routine check-ups. With research which supports these considerations it should be possible to convince more primary care physicians to take this advice seriously.

The cardiometabolic syndrome is an interesting constellation of maladaptive cardiovascular, renal, metabolic, prothrombotic, and inflammatory abnormalities which is recognized as a disease entity by the American Society of Endocrinology, writes the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This is a serious problem, particularly in view of the fact that childhood obesity is at epidemic levels and needs better intervention, as I have reported upon on another article for EmaxHealth.