Nutrient Intake, Physical Activity, and CVD Risk Factors in Children

Project HeartBeat!


      Associations among dietary intake, physical activity, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are inconsistent among male and female youth, possibly from lack of adjustment for pubertal status. The purpose of this report is to describe the associations of CVD risk factors among youth, adjusted for sexual maturation.


      Data analyzed in 2007 from a sumsample of 556 children aged 8, 11, and 14 years in Project HeartBeat!, 1991–1993, provide cross-sectional patterns of CVD risk factors by age and gender, adjusting for sexual maturation, within dietary fat and physical activity categories.


      Girls consuming moderate- to high-fat diets were significantly less physically active than those consuming low-fat diets. Boys and girls consuming high-fat diets had higher saturated fat and cholesterol intakes than children in low-fat categories. Boys had no significant differences in physical activity, blood pressure, waist circumference, or plasma cholesterol levels across fat categories. Girls' plasma cholesterol levels showed no significant differences across fat categories. Dietary intake did not differ across moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) categories within gender. There were no differences in BMI by fat or MVPA categories for either gender. Girls' waist circumference differed significantly by fat category, and systolic blood pressure differed significantly across fat and MVPA categories. Boys' fifth-phase diastolic blood pressure was significantly different across MVPA categories.


      Girls consuming atherogenic diets were significantly less physically active than those with low fat intakes, whereas boys consuming high-fat diets did not show differences in physical activity measures. With the prevalence of overweight rising among youth, the impact of atherogenic diets and sedentary lifestyles on CVD risk factors is of concern to public health professionals.
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