In the US, Latinx youth from low-income households are disproportionately affected by obesity. 25.8 percent of Latinx youth between two and 19 years are considered to have obesity, which is approximately two times more likely when compared to their non-Latinx, White counterparts. A higher level of obesity results in an increased risk of cardiometabolic diseases, which are a group of related diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and/or genetic predisposition.
A new study by Allison McKay, RDN, department manager for the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, identified elevated insulin, hemoglobin A1C, triglycerides, and other cardiometabolic biomarkers in early elementary-aged Latinx youth. Similar abnormal biomarkers are found in adults. She compared cardiometabolic biomarkers between age and sex-matched pairs of elementary school-aged Latinx children with obesity and healthy-weight peers.
“Tracking the biomarker difference in children with obesity and children with healthy weight may help to identify those at greater risk of developing several diseases and health issues. This will allow earlier interventions and reduce the number and severity of children who are affected by obesity and its related diseases later in life,” said McKay.
Additionally, the study found elevated liver markers in both groups, which may indicate a genetic or ethnic predisposition for abnormal liver function, but more research is needed.
The data was collected from the VALÉ study (Vidas Activas y Familias Saludables), which was funded by the Potomac Health Foundation and George Mason University.
“Differences in Cardiometabolic Biomarkers between Elementary School-Age Latinx Children with Obesity versus Healthy Weight” was published in the Southern Medical Journal in February 2023. Former Mason faculty member Sina Gallo, RD, PhD, was the principal investigator and Margaret T Jones, PhD, in Mason’s School of Kinesiology was also part of the research team.