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Arch Hellen Med, 26(1), January-February 2009, 70-78


Established and recently identified cardiovascular risk factors in childhood

1Department of Sports and Exercise Science, University of Thrace, Komotini,
2Cardiology Unit, University of Athens, Medical School, Athens,
3General Hospital of Nikaia, Pireus, Greece

OBJECTIVE To examine the prevalence of established and recently identified cardiovascular risk factors in Greek primary school children.

METHOD The study sample consisted of 58 males and 54 females aged 11.4±0.4 years from Northern Attica, Greece. The children were subjected to anthropometry, dietary intake, physical activity, fitness, clinical and biochemical assessments.

RESULTS Of the pupils, 10.7% were obese and 12.5% had central obesity. Fat and saturated fat consumption was high (>30% and >10% of total energy, respectively) in 25.9% of the females. The corresponding values for males were 19% and 36.2%, respectively. The percentage of males exhibiting high dietary cholesterol intake (>300 mg/day) was significantly higher (32.8%) compared to females (16.7%, Ρ<0.049), and 58% of males and 96.3% of females, respectively did not fulfill the guidelines for vigorous physical activity >30 min/day. In addition, 70.7% and 63% of males and females, respectively, demonstrated low cardiorespiratory fitness. Regarding biochemical indices, the risk factors with the highest prevalence in both genders included total cholesterol (females: 18.5%, males: 25.9%), Lp(a) (13% and 12.1%, respectively), C-reactive protein (11.1% and 10.3%, respectively), and LDL-cholesterol (13.8%) and plasma glucose (10.3%) in males and triglycerides (9.3%) in females. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 5.6% in females and 1.7% in males, without statistical gender differences.

CONCLUSIONS The unhealthy dietary and physical activity patterns, together with the adverse risk profile observed in the study sample, predict an unfavourable incidence of cardiovascular problems for this population in the future, unless effective health interventions targeted at the promotion of physical activity, fitness improvement and balanced nutrient intake can be implemented early in life.

Key words: Cardiovascular risk factors, Diet, Μetabolic syndrome, Οbesity, Physical activity.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine