Introduction UK Indian adults have higher risks of coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) than Indian and UK European adults. With growing evidence that CHD and T2D risks begin before adulthood, we compared risk factor patterns in Indian children living in India and the UK.
Methods We compared markers of adiposity and cardiometabolic risk in 9–10 year-old Indian children in the Mysore Parthenon birth cohort study, India (n=538) and in the cross-sectional Child Heart Health Study, England (n=483), which used comparable survey methods in 2007-2008 and 2004-2007 respectively. Small mean age and gender differences between studies were adjusted for in analyses.
Results UK Indian children were taller and had markedly higher levels of BMI (mean difference 3.2 kg/m2, % difference 22%, 95% CI 20 to 25%) combined skinfold thickness (% difference 36%, 95% CI 29 to 44%), LDL-cholesterol (mean difference 0.4, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.5 mmol/l), systolic BP (mean difference 11.3, 95% CI 9.9 to 12.8 mm Hg) and fasting insulin (% difference 141%, 95% CI 121 to 163%). These differences were similar in boys and girls; differences in LDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin remained marked after adjustment for adiposity markers and pubertal status.
Conclusions Substantial differences in cardiometabolic risk between UK Indian and Indian children are apparent before puberty. They do not depend on differences in adiposity and are likely to have an environmental basis. Strategies for chronic disease prevention need to include measures to combat the emergence of chronic disease risks in childhood or earlier.
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