BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pediatric obesity associates with both low-grade inflammation and cardiometabolic risk on the population level. Yet on an individual patient level, overweight/obesity does not always equal increased cardiometabolic risk. In this study, we examine whether low-grade inflammation associates with cardiometabolic risk in Danish children, independent of degree of adiposity. We further assess the value of integrating multiple inflammation markers to identify children with very-high cardiometabolic risk profiles.
METHOD AND RESULTS: We studied 2192 children and adolescents aged 6-18 years from an obesity clinic cohort and a population-based cohort, in a cross-sectional study design. Anthropometry, blood pressure, pubertal stage and body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry were assessed, and biomarkers including fasting serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), white blood cells (WBC), resistin, lipid profile and glucose metabolism were measured. Adjusted correlation analysis and odds ratios were calculated. We found that, independent of degree of adiposity, having high-normal inflammation marker concentrations associated with increased cardiometabolic risk: for girls, hsCRP >0.57-9.98 mg/L (mid/upper tertile) associated with ~2-fold higher odds of dyslipidemia and hepatic steatosis (vs. lower tertile). For both sexes, WBC >7.0-12.4 109/L (upper tertile) associated with 2.5-fold higher odds of insulin resistance. Lastly, children with multiple inflammation markers in the high-normal range exhibited the most severe cardiometabolic risk profile.
CONCLUSION: Low-grade inflammation associates with cardiometabolic risk in children independent of degree of adiposity. The associations vary with sex and inflammation marker measured. Finally, integrating multiple low-grade inflammation markers identifies a very-high-risk subgroup of children with overweight/obesity and may have clinical value.