Correlates of ideal cardiovascular health in European adolescents: The HELENA study

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 Feb;28(2):187-194. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2017.10.018. Epub 2017 Oct 28.


Background and aims: The ideal cardiovascular health (iCVH) construct consists of 4 health behaviors (smoking status, body mass index, physical activity and diet) and 3 health factors (total cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting glucose). A greater number of iCVH components in adolescence are related to better cardiovascular health, but little is known about the correlates of iCVH in adolescents. Thus, the aim of the study was to examine correlates of iCVH in European adolescents.

Methods and results: The study comprised 637 European adolescents with complete iCVH data. Participants were part of the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study, a cross-sectional, multicenter study conducted in 9 different European countries. Correlates investigated were sex and age, family affluence scale, maternal education, geographic location, sleep time, television viewing, duration of pregnancy, birth weight and breastfeeding. Younger adolescents, those whose mothers had medium/high education or those who watched television less than 2 h per day had a greater number of iCVH components compared to those who were older, had a mother with low education or watched television 2 h or more daily (P ≤ 0.01).

Conclusion: Since in our study older adolescents had worse iCVH than younger adolescents, early promotion of cardiovascular health may be important. Future studies may also investigate the usefulness of limiting television viewing to promote iCVH. Finally, since adolescents of mothers with low education had poorer iCVH, it may be of special interest to tailor public health promotion to adolescents from families with low socioeconomic status.

Keywords: Cardiovascular health; Epidemiology; Prevention; Public health; Risk factor; Socioeconomic status; Television.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Status*
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Ideal Body Weight
  • Male
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol