Objectives: Better childhood conditions, inferred from height and specifically leg length, are usually protective against ischemic heart disease and its risk factors in Western countries. In other geoethnic populations, height is less clearly protective, casting doubt on there being a biological etiology. To clarify the role of childhood conditions, we examined the associations of height and its components with cardiovascular risk among older Chinese people.
Methods: We used multivariable regression to examine the associations of height and its components with blood pressure, lipid profile, and diabetes in 10413 older Chinese adults (mean age=64.6 years).
Results: After we adjusted for age, gender, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle habits, greater sitting height was associated with diabetes and dyslipidemia. Longer legs were associated with lower pulse pressure and lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Conclusions: We provide indirect anthropometric evidence for the role of pre-pubertal and pubertal exposures on cardiovascular risk. Pubertal exposures are stronger than are prepubertal exposures but may be influenced by osteoporotic decline in old age. Further research should establish whether the observed relations are ethnically specific or relate to the stage or trajectory of socioeconomic development.