Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are known to begin early in life, but limited data on the relationship of obesity and hypertension with other known CVD risk factors, such as endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and chronic low-grade inflammation is available on children. In this cross-sectional study involving 6-9 years old school children aged from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa the relationship between obesity/hypertension and other risk factors for CVDs was investigated. General anthropometric parameters were measured, followed by blood pressure (BP) measurements and pulse wave velocity (PWV). Urine samples were collected for the determination of albumin, creatinine, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), 8-hydroxy-2deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), and thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance (TBARS). Overweight/obesity (19.28%) and pre-hypertension/hypertension (42.16%) were prevalent in children. Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), a marker of obesity, was positively correlated with ADMA, while ADMA and PWV were significantly different (p < 0.05) between hypertensive and normotensive children. Also, TBARS and 8-OHdG were significantly (p < 0.05) increased in hypertensive subjects. Creatinine was significantly (p < 0.05) increased in obese, as well as in hypertensive children, and positively associated with waist circumference (WC) and neck circumference (NC). In conclusion, obesity and hypertension were associated with renal-cardiovascular disease risk, while oxidative stress showed a possible association with obesity in 6 to 9 year old South African children of African descent. This suggests that South African children of African descent may be becoming more prone to developing CVDs, and therefore may require early intervention for the prevention of CVDs in the near future.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease; endothelial dysfunction; hypertension; obesity; oxidative stress; renal dysfunction.