The emergence of cardiometabolic disease risk in Chinese children and adults: consequences of changes in diet, physical activity and obesity

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Summary

Strong secular declines in physical activity, increased fat and salt intake, and increased obesity, especially abdominal obesity, mark China's recent nutrition transition. The China Health and Nutrition 2009 Survey collected anthropometry, blood pressure and fasting blood samples from more than 9,000 individuals ≥7 years of age. We focus on elevated blood pressure and plasma markers of diabetes, inflammation and dyslipidemia. We used international definitions of cardiometabolic risk and estimated age- and sex-specific prevalence ratios for each outcome for high waist circumference or overweight. We used logistic regression to assess each risk factor's association with diet, physical activity, overweight and abdominal obesity. Cardiometabolic risk prevalence was high in all age groups Prevalence ratios for most risk factors were nearly doubled for overweight or high waist circumference groups. Prevalence ratios were higher in younger than older adults. Low physical activity consistently predicted higher cardiometabolic risk across most outcomes and age-sex groups. The co-occurrence of overweight and high waist circumference was highly predictive of dyslipidemia, elevated glycated haemoglobin and diabetes. High prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors and their strong association with weight status and abdominal obesity in young adults portend increases in cardiometabolic morbidity and mortality. Early interventions will be required to reverse trends.

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