A cardiovascular disease risk factor in children with congenital heart disease: unmasking elevated waist circumference – a CHAMPS* study *CHAMPS: Children’s Healthy-Heart Activity Monitoring Program in Saskatchewan


Barbour-Tuck E, Boyes NG, Tomczak CR, Lahti DS, Baril CL, Pockett C, Runalls S, Kakadekar A, Pharis S, Bradley TJ, Wright KD, Erlandson MC.BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2020 May 19;20(1):231. doi: 10.1186/s12872-020-01508-y.PMID: 32429858 Free PMC article.



Background: Children with congenital heart disease (CHD) have an elevated risk of future cardiovascular disease but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Abdominal obesity (measured as waist circumference) is a risk factor for adult onset of cardiovascular diseases and is correlated with low physical activity levels, commonly found in children with congenital heart disease. Elevated waist circumference may be a mechanism by which cardiovascular disease risk is elevated in children with CHD. The purpose of this study was to compare waist circumference between children with and without CHD, while considering potential confounders. We hypothesized that children with CHD would have higher measures of waist circumference when controlling for differences in birthweight, lean mass, and physical activity.

Methods: Thirty-two children with CHD (10.9 ± 2.6 years; 12 female) from the Children’s Healthy-Heart Activity Monitoring Program in Saskatchewan, and 23 healthy controls (11.7 ± 2.5 years; 10 female) were studied. Waist circumference, physical activity (physical activity questionnaire), body composition (lean mass; dual x-ray absorptiometry), and birthweight were assessed. Analysis of covariance, Mann-Whitney U, and independent sample t-tests were used to assess group differences (p < 0.05).

Results: Children with CHD had greater waist circumference than controls, controlling for lean mass, physical activity, birthweight, and sex (F (1, 49) = 4.488, p = 0.039). Physical activity, lean mass, and birthweight were not significantly different between groups (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: Our findings generate a novel hypothesis-higher waist circumferences in children with CHD compared to age-matched controls, may contribute to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.



Fig. 1 Adjusted mean and standard deviation of waist circumference in children/adolescents with CHD (congenital heart disease; n = 32) and controls (n = 23). Group differences assessed by ANCOVA with sex, birthweight, physical activity, and lean mass as co-variates. *Indicates p = 0.039