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Relative contributions of adiposity in childhood and adulthood to vascular health of young adults

      Abstract

      Objective

      Vascular damage is suggested to have origins in childhood adiposity, but it is not clear whether this is a direct consequence of being obese in childhood. We aimed to estimate the associations of childhood body size or adiposity with adult vascular health, and to investigate whether these associations were independent of adult body size or adiposity.

      Design and methods

      Subjects were 2328 participants aged 7–15 years at baseline in 1985 with follow-up during 2004–2006 when aged 26–36 years. Anthropometric measures were taken at both baseline and follow-up. Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and three measures of large artery stiffness (LAS) were measured by ultrasound at follow-up.

      Results

      Childhood body size or adiposity was positively associated with both adult IMT and LAS. Participants who were obese in adulthood had the greatest LAS, particularly those who were normal weight in childhood. Adjustment for adult body size or adiposity eliminated effects of childhood body size or adiposity on LAS. For IMT, adjustment for adult body size or adiposity reduced estimated effects of child height by 44% (male) and 27% (female), of child weight by 46% (male) and 70% (female) and, after adjusting for sex, of child body mass index and body surface area by 60% and 53% respectively.

      Conclusions

      Whereas IMT appeared to be influenced by body size or adiposity during childhood and early adulthood, LAS depended primarily on current adiposity and magnitude of adiposity gain between childhood and adulthood.

      Highlights

      • Body size was measured in both childhood (7–15 years) and adulthood (26–36 years).
      • We examined their relationships with adult vascular health.
      • Large artery stiffness primarily depended on adult obesity.
      • Large artery stiffness was worst for normal weight children who became obese as adults.
      • Intima-media thickness was influenced by obesity in both childhood and adulthood.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      LAS (large artery stiffness), IMT (intima-media thickness), CD (carotid distensibility), SI (stiffness index), YEM (Young's elastic modulus)
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