Prospective Associations Between Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Groups and Metabolic Syndrome Risk in European Children: Results from the IDEFICS Study

Isabel Iguacel, Nathalie Michels, Wolfgang Ahrens, Karin Bammann, Gabriele Eiben, Juan M. Fernandez-Alvira, Staffan Mårild, Dénes Molnar, Lucia A. Reisch, Paola Russo, Michael Tornaritis, Toomas Veidebaum, Maike Wolters, Luis Alberto Moreno, Claudia Börnhorst

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Objective: Socioeconomic disadvantages during childhood are hypothesised to have negative implications for health. We aimed to investigate the association between socioeconomic disadvantages and children's total metabolic syndrome (MetS) score at baseline and follow-up and the extent to which socioeconomic disadvantages over time and the accumulation of these socioeconomic disadvantages can affect children's MetS risk.
Methods: The two-year longitudinal IDEFICS study included 2401 European children (aged 2.0–9.9) with complete information of the 16,229 participating at baseline. Sociodemographic variables, psychosocial factors and lifestyle were proxy-reported via questionnaires. Socioeconomically disadvantaged groups included children from families with low income, low education, migrant origin, unemployed parents, parents who lacked a social network, and from non-traditional families. MetS risk score was calculated as the sum of z-scores of waist circumference, blood pressure, lipids and insulin resistance. Linear mixed-effects models were used to study the association between social disadvantages and MetS risk. Models were adjusted for sex, age, well-being and lifestyle (fruit and vegetables consumption, physical activity, screen time).
Results: At both time points, children from low-income families (0.20 [0.03–0.37]); (β estimate and 99% confidence interval), children from non-traditional families (0.14 [0.02–0.26]), children whose parents were unemployed (0.31 [0.05–0.57]) and children who accumulated >3 disadvantages (0.21 [0.04–0.37]) showed a higher MetS score compared to non-socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.
Conclusion: Children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families are at high metabolic risk independently of diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviours and well-being. Interventions focusing on these socioeconomically disadvantaged groups should be developed to tackle health disparities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Pages (from-to)333-340
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 10. July 2018


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Socioeconomic disadvantages
  • Social vulnerabilities
  • Obesity
  • Children
  • Migrants
  • Lack of social support
  • Family structure
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Modifiable lifestyle indicators

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