Although overweight and obesity in childhood are related to dyslipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, and hypertension, most studies have examined levels of these risk factors individually or have used internal cutpoints (eg, quintiles) to classify overweight and risk factors.


We used cutpoints derived from several national studies to examine the relation of overweight (Quetelet index, >95th percentile) to adverse risk factor levels and risk factor clustering.


The sample consisted of 9167 5- to 17-year-olds examined in seven cross-sectional studies conducted by the Bogalusa Heart Study between 1973 and 1994.


About 11% of examined schoolchildren were considered overweight. Although adverse lipid, insulin, and blood pressure levels did not vary substantially with the Quetelet index at levels <85th percentile, risk factor prevalences increased greatly at higher levels of the Quetelet index. Overweight schoolchildren were 2.4 times as likely as children with a Quetelet index <85th percentile to have an elevated level of total cholesterol. Odds ratios for other associations were 2.4 (diastolic blood pressure), 3.0 (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), 3.4 (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), 4.5 (systolic blood pressure), 7.1 (triglycerides), and 12.6 (fasting insulin). Several of these associations differed between whites and blacks, and by age. Of the 813 overweight schoolchildren, 475 (58%) were found to have at least one risk factor. Furthermore, the use of overweight as a screening tool could identify 50% of schoolchildren who had two or more risk factors.


Because overweight is associated with various risk factors even among young children, it is possible that the successful prevention and treatment of obesity in childhood could reduce the adult incidence of cardiovascular disease.overweight, lipids, blood pressure, insulin, children, adolescents.

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