We examined the prevalence of 14 modifiable CHD risk factors in a sample of 210 provincial Greek children as they progressed from age 12 to 14. It was found that 46.2% of boys and 49.5% of girls (p > 0.05) exhibited three or more risk factors at their 12th year, with values of 42% for boys and 51.1% (p > 0.05) for girls for their 13th year, and 29.4% for boys and 55% (p < 0.001) for girls in their 14th year. Risk factors with the highest prevalence in both sexes included low vigorous physical activity, low aerobic fitness, and elevated body fatness. The fact that boys exhibited progressively fewer risk factors with age was mainly attributed to increased time spent on vigorous physical activity (P < 0.001) and higher predicted oxygen intake (P < 0.001) with a concomitant decrease in body fat (P < 0.001). The opposite pattern demonstrated by girls was primarily due to elevated predicted % body fat (P < 0.05), % saturated fat intake (P < 0.05), total cholesterol (TC; P < 0.001), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C; P < 0.001), and decreased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)/TC; P < 0.001). In conclusion, a high percentage of young adolescent Greek boys and girls exhibit three or more modifiable CHD risk factors. However, as the children progress from age 12 to 14, gender differences emerge regarding the development of their CHD risk profiles. The present data support the notion that preventive strategies for combating CHD should begin early in life.
The authors are with the School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, UK; Y. Koutedakis is also with the Department of Sports and Exercise Science, Thessaly University, Greece.