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Pre-clinical alterations in cardiovascular phenotypes and their associations with metabolic profiles among obese youths


Childhood obesity and various obesity-related co-morbidities have become a serious global healthcare problem. Predictive risk stratification and early detection of high-risk obese youths can potentially help modify the outcomes of obesity before irreversible damage taking place. Newer surrogate markers for assessing pre-clinical cardiovascular alterations have good predictive values for future cardiovascular risks. However, local data regarding obesity-related arterial alterations in youth are lacking at present.


To evaluate the 1) pre-clinical cardiovascular alterations; and 2) their associations with the metabolic profiles in obese Hong Kong Chinese youths.

Study methods

A total of 56 obese subjects and 58 healthy lean controls (M: F 1:1, age 17.0 ± 2.06 years) were recruited. Clinical, biochemical and arterial (structural and functional) parameters were obtained from all participants. Structural arterial parameters were determined by assessing carotid arterial intima-media thickness with ECG-synchronized ultrasound (Vivid 7, GE Medical Systems, Norway). Cross-sectional and regional arterial functions were determined by assessing the arterial stiffness (β) of carotid arteries and pulse wave velocities of various arterial segments respectively with an automatic device (VP-2000; Colin Medical Technology, Japan). All ultrasonographic and arterial assessments were performed by a single researcher.


Obese youths have worse preclinical arterial phenotypes both structurally and functionally, hence higher risks of developing cardiovascular disease in the future (p<0.0001). Important independent risk factors for preclinical arterial alterations in obese youths, including body mass indices (BMI), waist circumferences, blood pressures and plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were demonstrated (p<0.0001). Obese youths having co-morbid metabolic disturbances were associated with worse preclinical arterial phenotypes. The worst cardiovascular phenotypes were shown in obese youths with the highest triglycerides to high-density lipoproteins (Tg-to-HDL) ratios despite most of them having normal serum triglyceride and HDL levels. Furthermore, obese subjects with higher paediatric NAFLD fibrosis index (PNFI) scores [1] have worse cross-sectional arterial stiffness.


Assessment of preclinical cardiovascular phenotypes in asymptomatic obese youths provides clinicians a window for early identification of those at higher risks of developing future cardiovascular events. Evaluation of lipid compositions and obesity-related liver alterations may potentially help further stratify obese youths into subgroups with different degrees of cardiovascular risks.


  1. Nobili V, Alisi A, Vania A, Tiribelli C, Pietrobattista A, Bedogni G, et al: The pediatric NAFLD fibrosis index: a predictor of liver fibrosis in children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. BMC Med. 2009, 7: 21-10.1186/1741-7015-7-21.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Man, E., Cheung, YF. & Cheung, PT. Pre-clinical alterations in cardiovascular phenotypes and their associations with metabolic profiles among obese youths. Int J Pediatr Endocrinol 2015 (Suppl 1), O44 (2015).

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