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Impact of adiposity on cardiac structure in adult life: the childhood determinants of adult health (CDAH) study

Robyn J Tapp12*, Alison Venn3, Quan L Huynh3, Olli T Raitakari4, Obioha C Ukoumunne5, Terence Dwyer6 and Costan G Magnussen34

Author Affiliations

1 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

2 Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor │ Alice Hoy Building (Blg 162), Monash Road │, Melbourne, Australia

3 Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

4 The Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, and the Department of Clinical Physiology AND NUCLEAR MEDICINE, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland

5 PenCLAHRC, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

6 Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Parkville, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2014, 14:79  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-14-79

Published: 1 July 2014



We have examined the association between adiposity and cardiac structure in adulthood, using a life course approach that takes account of the contribution of adiposity in both childhood and adulthood.


The Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study (CDAH) is a follow-up study of 8,498 children who participated in the 1985 Australian Schools Health and Fitness Survey (ASHFS). The CDAH follow-up study included 2,410 participants who attended a clinic examination. Of these, 181 underwent cardiac imaging and provided complete data. The measures were taken once when the children were aged 9 to 15 years, and once in adult life, aged 26 to 36 years.


There was a positive association between adult left ventricular mass (LVM) and childhood body mass index (BMI) in males (regression coefficient (β) 0.41; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.14 to 0.67; p = 0.003), and females (β = 0.53; 95% CI: 0.34 to 0.72; p < 0.001), and with change in BMI from childhood to adulthood (males: β = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.04 to 0.51; p < 0.001, females: β = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.58; p < 0.001), after adjustment for confounding factors (age, fitness, triglyceride levels and total cholesterol in adulthood). After further adjustment for known potential mediating factors (systolic BP and fasting plasma glucose in adulthood) the relationship of LVM with childhood BMI (males: β = 0.45; 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.71; p = 0.001, females: β = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.29 to 0.68; p < 0.001) and change in BMI (males: β = 0.26; 95% CI: 0.04 to 0.49; p = 0.02, females: β = 0.40; 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.59; p < 0.001) did not change markedly.


Adiposity and increased adiposity from childhood to adulthood appear to have a detrimental effect on cardiac structure.