Tape Measure Predictor

February 14, 2008

Identifying children most likely to have an early form of metabolic syndrome needs only a scale and a tape measure, researchers at the University of Verona in Italy have recently discovered during a long study of just under 1500 Italian children. Metabolic syndrome is the term they used to describe the combination of excess weight, hypertension, and high cholesterol and plasma glucose found in children and adolescents.

We know that childhood obesity is a growing problem, but if parents were to monitor the waist-to-height ratio of those aged 5-15 they could help prevent their child developing serious conditions later in life that are linked to obesity such as cardiovascular disease and risk of diabetes.

The significant figure is when a child has a waist-to-height ratio greater than 0.5 and may seem overweight, but not obese so that warning signals are not raised in time. Such children were found to have a 95% chance of meeting the criteria for metabolic syndrome. As with adults, having a high waist measurement is a red flag, although of course there are more high-tech tools available to assess the risk in such children.

The chief researcher, Dr. Maffeis, says that waist-to-height ratio is easier for parents to monitor and interpret before the stage of intervention may be required.


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