Aim: Subclinical inflammation has been proposed as a pathophysiologic mechanism linking obesity with vascular and metabolic disease. Native North American populations are experiencing high prevalence rates of both (i) childhood obesity and (ii) adult cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes. Thus, we sought to determine whether subclinical inflammation is an early complication of obesity in Native children.
Methods: Serum concentrations of the inflammatory biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP) were assessed in a population-based, cross-sectional study of the Sandy Lake Oji-Cree community of Northern Ontario, Canada, involving 228 children aged 10-19 years (mean age 14.8).
Results: Median CRP in this population was 0.5 mg/l (interquartile range 0.18-1.79 mg/l). CRP levels were higher than age-matched reference data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Importantly, fully 15.8% of the children of this community had CRP concentrations between 3 and 10 mg/l, a range that identifies adults at high risk of CVD. Moreover, increasing CRP concentration in this paediatric population was associated with an enhanced CV risk profile, consisting of increased adiposity, higher insulin resistance, worsening lipid profile (higher total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoprotein B and total cholesterol : high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol ratio), increased leptin and decreased adiponectin. On multivariate analysis, waist circumference and interleukin-6 (IL-6) emerged as independent determinants of CRP concentration.
Conclusion: Subclinical inflammation is an early complication of childhood obesity in Native children and may foreshadow an increased burden of CVD and type 2 diabetes in the future.