Background: Obesity in adulthood is associated with shorter leukocyte telomere length, a marker of biological age that is also associated with age-related disorders, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Objective and Hypotheses: To investigate the relation between BMI in childhood and adolescence and telomere length, by determining the mean telomere length of leukocytes.
Patients and Method: Seven hundred forty-four (n=744) children and adolescents aged 11.3 years (mean±S.E.M., 11.31±0.05 years; boys: 370, girls: 374) participated in the study. Depending on their BMI, patients were classified as obese (n=91), overweight (n=212), normal (n=411) or underweight (n=15). Two hundred thirty-three (n=233), children were prepubertal and 502 pubertal. The telomere length of leukocytes was determined by monochrome multiplex quantitative real-time PCR (MMQRTPCR). Telomere length was compared among groups and correlated with selected anthropometric parameters.
Results: Obese children and adolescents had significantly shorter leukocyte telomere length compared with children and adolescents with normal BMI (0.94±0.37 vs 1.16±0.45, P=0.007). Telomere length was inversely related to BMI (r=−0.247, P<0.001), triglycerides concentrations (r=−0.119, P=0.001), waist to hip ratio (r=−0.164, P<0.001) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (r=−0.126, P=0.003) concentrations. There was no significant correlation with total, HDL or LDL cholesterol concentrations. No significant difference in leukocyte telomere length was noted between boys and girls.
Conclusions: Obese children and adolescents have significantly shorter leukocyte telomere length compared with their normal counterparts. These findings indicate that the increase in BMI in childhood and adolescence may be associated with an advanced biological age compared with the chronological age, and may have an adverse impact on future health.
20 - 22 Sep 2014
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology