IntroductionObesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS) indicators have increased globally among the pediatric population. MetS indicators in the young elevate their risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders later in life. This study examined early onset obesity as a risk factor for MetS risk in adolescence.
MethodsA cohort of Chilean participants (N = 673) followed from infancy was assessed at age 5 years and in adolescence (mean age, 16.8 y). Adiposity was measured at both time points; blood pressure and fasting blood samples were assessed in adolescence only. Early onset obesity was defined as a World Health Organization z score of 2 standard deviations (SDs) or more for body mass index (BMI) at age 5 years. We used linear regression to examine the association between early onset obesity and adolescent MetS risk z score, adjusting for covariates.
ResultsEighteen percent of participants had early onset obesity, and 50% of these remained obese in adolescence. Mean MetS risk z score in adolescence was significantly higher among those with early onset obesity than among those without (1.0; SD, 0.8 vs 0.2; SD, 0.8 [P < .001]). In the multivariable model, early onset obesity independently contributed to a higher MetS risk score in adolescence (β = 0.27, P < .001), controlling for obesity status at adolescence and sex, and explained 39% of the variance in MetS risk.
ConclusionEarly onset obesity as young as age 5 years relates to higher MetS risk.