Precursors of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) originate in childhood. We investigated relationships of children's CVD risk factors with parent's socio-economic position (SEP) and lifestyle and how CVD risk factors correlate within families.
We studied 602 families with 2141 individuals comprising two full sibs; aged 5-14 years, and their biological parents (Uppsala Family Study). Parental SEP (occupational class and education) and lifestyle habits [smoking, physical activity (PA), alcohol consumption] were taken from questionnaires. Associations with cholesterol, ApoB/ApoA1, leptin, adiponectin, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and overweight/obesity (OW/OB) were analysed by linear/logistic regression. Results were adjusted for child's age, gender, pubertal stage and family clustering.
We observed no consistent associations between parental SEP and children's CVD risk factors. Parental lifestyle had stronger effects, independent of parental SEP. Children of smoking fathers had higher BMI (4%, 95% CI 1-7%) and leptin levels (27%, 95% CI 1.00-61.60%). Children of mothers reporting vigorous PA had lower BMI, cholesterol and decreased odds for OW/OB with a possible dose effect. Compared with mothers reporting no vigorous activity, mothers with ≤75 min and 76-150 min/week of vigorous activity had 43% (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.22-0.89) and 72% (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.14-0.60) lower risk of having an OW/OB child, respectively, after adjustment for confounders. Independent, consistently stronger and significant associations were found between all studied parents' and children's CVD risk factors.
Parental behaviours: smoking, alcohol consumption, low PA are associated with higher levels of CVD risk factors (BMI, OW/OB, cholesterol) in children. Strong correlations in CVD risk factors within families not related to parental SEP/lifestyle suggest a role of genetics in influencing children's CVD risk factors. Public health policies should target families with unhealthy lifestyles.
2012. Vol. 22, no 6, 840-847 p.