Ultrasonographic evaluation of the common carotid intima-media complex in healthy and overweight/obese children

Abstract Background Obesity is a global epidemic, including among children. It is therefore necessary to identify cardiovascular changes in overweight/obese children as early as possible. Mode B ultrasonography of the common carotids can be used to precisely evaluate in real time early changes in the thickness of the intima-media complex (IMC), which can detect onset of the atherosclerosis process. Objectives This study compared IMC thickness between schoolchildren with and without overweight/obesity. Methods A sample of 59 children of both sexes, aged 7 to 10 years, were recruited from health centers in São Paulo, Brazil. Children were classified by z scores for body mass index (BMI) into two groups, with or without overweight/obesity. These groups were then compared in terms of IMC thickness. Results The groups were homogenous for age and sex. The mean IMC measurement in the group with overweight/obesity was 0.49 (± 0.07) mm, whereas in the group free from overweight/obesity it was 0.41 (± 0.05) mm (p < 0.01). These differences were maintained when groups with and without overweight/obesity were compared separately by sex and for right and left sides. The coefficient for the correlation between IMC measurement and BMI z score was 0.61 (95% confidence interval = 0.42-0.75). Within the same nutritional status group, there were no differences between sexes or between right and left sides. Conclusions Intima-media thickness was greater among children with overweight/obesity and was directly proportional to BMI z score, denoting increased cardiovascular risk in this group.