Youth overweight and metabolic disturbances in predicting carotid intima-media thickness, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in adulthood: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study

Diabetes Care. 2014 Jul;37(7):1870-7. doi: 10.2337/dc14-0008. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


Objective: Our objective was to assess cardiovascular risk and metabolic complications in adulthood in subjects with or without overweight and metabolic disturbances (i.e., elevated blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and high LDL cholesterol) and their combinations as youth.

Research design and methods: Using data from the population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study, we examined the utility of four age- and sex-specific youth phenotypes (group I: normal weight, no metabolic disturbances; group II: normal weight, one or more metabolic disturbances; group III: overweight/obese, no metabolic disturbances; group IV: overweight/obese, one or more metabolic disturbances) in predicting adult high carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and metabolic syndrome (MetS). The study included 1,617 participants 9-24 years of age at baseline who were followed up 21-25 years later.

Results: IMT (mean ± SEM) was higher among participants in groups II (0.627 ± 0.005 mm, P = 0.05), III (0.647 ± 0.010 mm, P = 0.005), and IV (0.670 ± 0.010 mm, P < 0.0001) compared with group I (0.616 ± 0.003 mm). In addition, subjects in group IV had significantly higher IMT compared with those in group II (P = 0.002). Participants in groups II, III, and IV were at increased risk of the development of MetS in adulthood compared with those in the control group. For group II participants, the difference was attenuated after risk factor adjustments. Additionally, participants in group III and IV were at increased risk of the development of T2DM compared with those in groups I and II.

Conclusions: While metabolic risk factors associated with overweight increase future risk for MetS, T2DM, and increased IMT, overweight in isolation is also a risk factor. Therefore, overweight should be prevented and treated wherever possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Dyslipidemias / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult