Obesity in adults is associated with left ventricular hypertrophy, dilatation, and myocardial fibrosis, as well as heart failure and coronary heart disease. These associations have been studied to a lesser extent in the paediatric population. This study aims to investigate the relationship between obesity and cardiac structure and function in the paediatric population. In a southern Spanish village, we selected all inhabitants aged 6-17 years stratifying by age, gender, and educational centres. We performed a complete transthoracic echocardiogram evaluating all the cardiac morphological and functional parameters commonly measured in an echocardiographic study. There were 212 children and adolescents included. Of them, 48.1% were males. The mean age was 10.9 ± 3.0 years. A total of 106 (50%) were normal weight, 57 (26.9%) overweight, and 49 (23.1%) obese. Sex and age were similar in all three groups. Overweight and obesity were associated with larger left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes (p < 0.0005), greater left ventricular mass (p < 0.0005), and smaller ejection fraction (p < 0.0005). They were also associated with larger atrial, aortic, and right ventricular size. Lateral and mean E/e' ratios were higher (p = 0.007 and p = 0.01 respectively). Body mass index was independently associated with all cavity size variables as well as left ventricular ejection fraction.
Conclusion: Childhood obesity is independently associated with larger heart chambers, greater left ventricle mass, and smaller left ventricle ejection fraction.
What is known: • Childhood obesity is related to the development of cardiovascular risk factors and is considered an epidemic of the twenty-first century; its prevalence is rising.
What is new: • Childhood overweight and obesity lead to changes in cardiac structure and function which, although not considered clinically pathological, are significant and a result of obesity, and which behave as unfavourable incipient alterations at an early age.
Keywords: Childhood obesity; Echocardiography; Left ventricular ejection fraction; Left ventricular mass.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.