Purpose of review: To provide a comprehensive overview on the main findings from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. This prospective multicenter study initiated in 1980 (N = 3596, baseline age 3-18 years) has followed up study participants over 30 years to investigate childhood risk factors for cardiometabolic outcomes in adulthood.
Recent findings: Childhood BMI, socioeconomic status, parental risk factor status, as well as genetic polymorphisms are independent predictors of adult obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. Results from the Young Finns Study and other follow-up studies have shown that conventional childhood risk factors, such as dyslipidemia, obesity, elevated blood pressure and smoking, are predictive of subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults. Recent findings suggest that childhood lifestyle (diet, physical activity) is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis and its progression in adulthood. Concerning the timing of risk factor measurements, they seem to be predictive of adult atherosclerosis from the age of 9 onwards. From a clinical point of view, a recent observation suggesting that the adverse cardiometabolic effects of childhood overweight/obesity are reversed among those who become nonobese adults, provides optimism during the days of obesity epidemic.
Summary: Current data suggest that childhood risk factors are associated with higher risk of subclinical atherosclerosis in adulthood. Future studies among aging cohorts followed since childhood will provide data on their influence on clinical cardiovascular outcomes.