Study identifies abnormal biomarkers associated with obesity in early elementary-aged Latino youth

Children's Health

In the United States, low-income, Latino youth are disproportionately affected by obesity with 25.8% of Latino youth aged 2-19 considered to have obesity, which is approximately two times more likely when compared to their non-Latino 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 an increased 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 Latino youth. Similar abnormal biomarkers are found in adults. She compared cardiometabolic biomarkers between age and sex-matched pairs of elementary school-aged Latino children with obesity vs. 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.”

Allison McKay, RDN, Department Manager, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

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 Familias Saludables), which was funded by the Potomac Health Foundation and George Mason University.

Journal reference:

McKay, A. J., et al. (2023). Differences in Cardiometabolic Biomarkers between Elementary School–Age Latinx Children with Obesity versus Healthy Weight. Southern Medical Journal.

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