Research in International Cardiovascular Health - Lifestyles, Environments and Genetic Attributes in Children and Youth

South Asian children and their environment

Photo by: YoungDoo Moon, via Flickr


The RICH LEGACY study aims to identify individual, family, school and community characteristics that are linked with cardiovascular risk factors in children and youth. We are comparing 3 distinct settings: urban Canada, urban India and rural India. This study is an essential step to improving health in different populations whose practices and beliefs may require different solutions.


The prevalence of childhood obesity and other cardiovascular risk factors is increasing rapidly around the world. As a result, health consequences such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are occurring at younger ages and are causing a greater burden to society than ever before. South Asians are particularly vulnerable as they appear to be predisposed to an unfavourable body composition with increased abdominal fat and low lean body mass, which are associated with diabetes.


The overall goals of this school-based cross-sectional study are to describe the differences in body composition of South Asian children and youth in 3 distinct settings which represent diverse environments: rural India, urban India and urban Canada, and to identify characteristics at the individual, family, school and community level that are associated with adiposity and its metabolic consequences. The findings will be used to identify relevant priorities for intervention that are either common to all the settings or setting-specific. These results will provide novel information for the development of public health initiatives targeting families, schools and communities for the prevention and management of obesity.


Participants between the ages of 7-9 or 14-15 are recruited from schools, places of worship and cultural centres in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey. Anthropometry, blood pressure and grip strength measurements are taken, and simple questionnaires about diet and activity behaviour are completed by the child. Consenting participants provide a saliva sample for DNA analysis. In addition, objective measures of the school environment and the community environment are carried out by study personnel.

Some participants are invited back for an additional visit. During this visit, participants arrive after fasting for 8 hours, accompanied by a guardian. After a fasting blood sample is drawn, children are provided breakfast. Separate questionnaires are administered to the children (attitudes and perceptions and knowledge of healthy behaviours) and to the guardian (family-level environment, attitudes and perceptions). For the 7-9 year old children, parental assistance with the children's questionnaire may be required.

Progress to Date

The recruitment phase is complete.