What body mass index can mean for cardiometabolic risk

July 8, 2020

Overweight and obesity issues have been suspected of increasing cardiometabolic risk in children. A new study investigates.

Obesity and a higher body mass index (BMI) have been hypothesized to be linked to cardiometabolic risks. An investigation in Pediatrics examines whether overweight and obesity as well as BMI patterns can serve as a predictor for future cardiometabolic risks.1

Researchers used a population-based sample of 5107 infants who were measured for BMI every 2 years between 2 years to 11 years. Five BMI trajectories were found using growth curve models. At 11 and 12 years of age, 1811 underwent assessments for metabolic syndrome risk scores, carotid intima-media thickness, and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity.

They found that overweight and obesity that went from early childhood onward were strongly linked with higher cardiometabolic risks when the child was aged 11 to 12 years. At 6 or 7 years of age, when compared with a healthy weight child, children who were overweight had higher metabolic syndrome risk scores by 0.23 standard deviation (SD) units and children with obesity saw higher risk scores by 0.76 SD units. The links nearly doubled by the time a child was aged 10 to 11 years. Children who were obese had higher outcome pulse wave velocity from the age of 6 years and also had slightly higher outcome carotid intima-media thickness at all ages studied. Overall, a cumulative exposure to a high BMI from 2 years of age was linked to the greatest cardiometabolic risk.

The investigators concluded that a high BMI, particularly one that started in early childhood, was linked to cardiometabolic risk as young as 11 years of age. This connection underscores the need to reduce and prevent overweight and obesity in early childhood.


1. Lycett K, Juonala M, Magnussen CG, et al. Body mass index from early to late childhood and cardiometabolic measurements at 11 to 12 years. Pediatrics. 2020;146(1):e20193666. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-3666