ATHENS, Ga., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Waist circumference is the best predictor of a child's future cardiovascular risk, Australian and U.S. researchers suggest.
Researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens, the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart, Australia, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne suggests waist circumference -- rather than the height/weight measure called the body mass index -- is the best clinical predictor of a child's risk later risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The study, published online in the International Journal of Obesity, finds children whose high-waist circumference values put them in the top 25 percent for their age and sex were five to six times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome as young adults than children whose low-waist circumferences placed them in the bottom 25 percent. Metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of key cardiovascular risk factors -- is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
"We wanted to identify which clinical measure of childhood body composition best predicts long-term cardio-metabolic health risks," lead author Michael Schmidt of the University of Georgia says in a statement.
Schmidt and colleagues analyzed data collected as part of a 20-year follow-up health and fitness assessment of 2,188 adults between 2004 to 2006, who in 1985, at ages 7-15, participated in a national childhood health and fitness survey.