. Almost 60 percent of EU adults and roughly one-third of 11-year-olds are overweight or obese and obesity-related conditions are the leading causes of preventable death, according to the World Health Organisation.
In the study, extensive data collection has been conducted over the years, from the early prenatal phase through childhood, to examine the development of the cardiovascular system and early cardiovascular risk factors.
Data collection included the CMR imaging scans that study the hearts of 2631 children aged 10, with a balanced sex distribution (51.3% girls) from Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life onwards in the Netherlands.
With their findings, the researchers say understanding and quantifying the impact of obesity on development is becoming much clearer.
Heart Researcher Professor Pablo Lamata said: “In the future, this pattern of remodeling could inform risk prediction models and raise an earlier awareness of the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle from childhood”.
Researchers found that the left heart acquires a circular cross-section and becomes tilted away from the normal vertical symmetry – this second trait has been previously shown to be present in aortic stenosis patients.
Strikingly, the remodeling becomes significant at a BMI of roughly 19 in children aged 10, corresponding to the threshold of overweight range in adults BMI 25.
The idea is to allow clinicians to help patients reduce future cardiovascular risks in those that are more susceptible to them because the heart responds in a given way to the insult of obesity.
Future research will answer if this is an adaptive or a maladaptive response and whether this remodeling signature could inform risk prediction models.