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Obesity During Teen Years Tied to Stiffening of Arteries

This adverse effect is further aggravated by an unfavorable metabolic profile

overweight woman exercising

THURSDAY, June 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Persistently high fat mass during adolescence is associated with greater arterial stiffness, according to a study published online May 21 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Frida Dangardt, M.D., from University College London, and colleagues used data from 3,423 participants (aged 9 to 17 years; 54.5 percent female) in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to evaluate whether persistent high adiposity levels are associated with increased arterial stiffness in adolescence. Arterial stiffness was measured using carotid to femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) at age 17 years.

The researchers found that total fat mass was positively associated with PWV at age 17 years (0.004 m/s per kg). Persistently high total fat mass indices (FMI) and trunk FMI were associated with greater PWV (0.15 m/s per kg/m² and 0.15 m/s per kg/m², respectively) versus lower FMI. The adverse effect of high total FMI on arterial stiffness was amplified by metabolic abnormalities (PWV, 6.0 m/s for metabolically healthy participants versus 6.2 m/s for metabolically unhealthy participants). Participants who reestablished normal total FMI in adolescence had comparable PWV to those who had normal FMI throughout their lives (PWV, 5.8 m/s for metabolically healthy and 5.9 m/s for metabolically unhealthy and 5.7 m/s for metabolically healthy and 5.9 m/s for metabolically unhealthy, respectively).

"Reverting to normal FMI in adolescence was associated with normal PWV, suggesting adolescence as an important period for interventions to tackle obesity in the young to maximize long-term vascular health," the authors write.

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