C-reactive protein and body mass index in children: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994

J Pediatr. 2001 Apr;138(4):486-92. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2001.112898.


Objectives: To examine the relationship between C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration and body mass index (BMI) in children.

Study design: With the use of data from 5305 children aged 6 to 18 years in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988 to 1994), a cross-sectional health survey, we examined whether CRP concentrations were elevated among overweight children.

Results: Among children whose BMI was below the age- and sex-specific 15th percentile, 6.6% of boys and 10.7% of girls had an elevated CRP concentration (>2.1 mg/L) compared with 24.2% of boys and 31.9% of girls whose BMI was > or =95th percentile. After adjustment was done for age, sex, race or ethnicity, poverty income ratio, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration, white blood cell count, and history of chronic bronchitis, the adjusted odds of having an elevated CRP concentration were 2.20 (95% CI 1.30, 3.75) for children with a BMI of 85th to <95th percentile and 4.92 (95% CI 3.39, 7.15) for children with a BMI of > or =95th percentile compared with children who had a BMI of 15th to <85th percentile. The associations did not differ significantly by age, sex, or race or ethnicity.

Conclusions: In a large representative sample of US children, CRP concentration was significantly elevated among children with a BMI > or=85th percentile, thus confirming previous findings of this association in children and extending previous research in adults to children. Excess body weight may be associated with a state of chronic low-grade inflammation in children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood*


  • C-Reactive Protein