Metabolic status in children and its transitions during childhood and adolescence-the IDEFICS/I.Family study

Int J Epidemiol. 2019 Oct 1;48(5):1673-1683. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyz097.


Background: This study aimed to investigate metabolic status in children and its transitions into adolescence.

Methods: The analysis was based on 6768 children who participated in the European IDEFICS/I.Family cohort (T0 2007/2008, T1 2009/2010 and/or T3 2013/2014; mean ages: 6.6, 8.4 and 12.0 years, respectively) and provided at least two measurements of waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose and lipids over time. Latent transition analysis was used to identify groups with similar metabolic status and to estimate transition probabilities.

Results: The best-fitting model identified five latent groups: (i) metabolically healthy (61.5%; probability for group membership at T0); (ii) abdominal obesity (15.9%); (iii) hypertension (7.0%); (iv) dyslipidaemia (9.0%); and (v) several metabolic syndrome (MetS) components (6.6%). The probability of metabolically healthy children at T0 remaining healthy at T1 was 86.6%; when transitioning from T1 to T3, it was 90.1%. Metabolically healthy children further had a 6.7% probability of developing abdominal obesity at T1. Children with abdominal obesity at T0 had an 18.5% probability of developing several metabolic syndrome (MetS) components at T1. The subgroup with dyslipidaemia at T0 had the highest chances of becoming metabolically healthy at T1 (32.4%) or at T3 (35.1%). Only a minor proportion of children showing several MetS components at T0 were classified as healthy at follow-up; 99.8% and 88.3% remained in the group with several disorders at T1 and T3, respectively.

Conclusions: Our study identified five distinct metabolic statuses in children and adolescents. Although lipid disturbances seem to be quite reversible, abdominal obesity is likely to be followed by further metabolic disturbances.

Keywords: I.Family; IDEFICS; Metabolic syndrome; dyslipidaemia; glucose disturbances; hypertension; latent transition analysis; waist circumference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dyslipidemias / epidemiology
  • Dyslipidemias / metabolism*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / metabolism*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / metabolism*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference


  • Lipids