September 26, 2012

The Future Health Risks of Overweight Kids

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Adults who are obese are at greater risk for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. The writing on the wall isn’t optimistic for kids in the same boat. Compared to normal weight children, obese children have a 30% – 40% elevated risk of these same conditions. A study published on BMJ.com  explains why the warning may be greater than previously thought.

Earlier this month, New York City banned the sale of larger-sized sugary drinks in restaurants, mobile food carts, movie theatres, and delis. Mayor Bloomberg isn’t trying to make enemies by banning these drinks in NYC. He’s not making any friends in the soft drink industry, either.  But his heart’s in the right place.

The study analyzed results from over 49,000 healthy children, 5 – 15 years old,  in highly developed countries. Overweight kids and obese kids both had elevated blood pressure, compared with normal weight kids. However clinically obese kids had significantly higher blood pressure.

Fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance are markers for diabetes.  The obese kids presented results that were significantly higher, denoting a significantly higher risk for diabetes in these kids. These levels  were higher in overweight kids, as well, but not as alarming as obese kids.

Thickening of the heart walls is a very telling  characteristic of heart disease often observed in adults. Obese kids had a significant increase in heart mass thickening.

“Weight, and especially obesity, has a significant effect on the risk parameters for cardiovascular disease that are present in children from age five years,” they conclude. “This effect could give them a head start on their normal and even overweight classmates for future cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.”

Full disclosure:  I am thoroughly entertained by Honey Boo Boo. She redefines what a well-adjusted 6 year old is today. Hopefully Alana will redefine the statistics in years to come.

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