Body fat distribution and early arterial changes in healthy 5-year-old children

Ann Med. 2012 Jun;44(4):350-9. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2011.558520. Epub 2011 Mar 1.


Background: It is unknown at what age overweight starts to takes its toll on the vasculature. We studied the relation between body size measures and vascular characteristics in healthy 5-year-old children.

Methods: In 306 5-year-old children from an on-going birth cohort, body size characteristics were measured, including sonographic measurement of abdominal fat. Ultrasonographic measurements of the carotid artery were performed to obtain intima-media thickness (CIMT), arterial wall distensibility, and elastic modulus (EM).

Results: Increased body-weight was related to thicker CIMT (linear regression coefficient 2.25 μm/kg; P = 0.003), increased EM (2.73 kPa/kg; P = 0.01), and lower distensibility (-1.23 MPa(-1)/kg; P = 0.03). Similar relations were found for increased BMI with CIMT and EM. Increased intra-abdominal fat was related to thicker CIMT (9.19 μm/cm; P = 0.02), and increased waist circumference with thicker CIMT (2.17 μm/cm; P = 0.02), lower distensibility (-1.70 MPa(-1)/cm; P = 0.01), and higher EM (2.77 kPa/cm; P = 0.02), independent of BMI.

Conclusion: For the first time it is demonstrated that increased general body mass and particularly waist circumference and intra-abdominal fat are related to thicker and stiffer arteries already early in life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Body Fat Distribution*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Carotid Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness