Obese children are at risk of heart disease

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Obese children are at higher health risks than previously thought

Overweight and obesity (obesity) are a greater health risk for children than previously thought. The research team led by Claire Friedmann from the University of Oxford published the results of a meta-study in the specialist magazine "British Medical Journal" (BMJ), which examined the possible connections between existing overweight and cardiovascular diseases (cardiovascular diseases) in children.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in modern industrialized countries. The main causes are unhealthy nutrition and lack of exercise. Although recent studies in Germany have shown a slight decrease in the proportion of overweight children, in Italy, for example, more than 40 percent of two to ten year olds suffer from overweight or obesity. Greece, Spain and Portugal can be mentioned as further European countries with a particularly large number of overweight children. The consequences for the health of the affected children have already been discussed many times, but according to Claire Friedmann's current meta study, the impending damage to health is apparently far more far-reaching than previously assumed. Typical risk factors for the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases appear early on.

Blood pressure raised in overweight children The research team at Oxford University evaluated 63 previous studies with a total of 49,220 children as part of its meta-study. The age of the study participants between five and 15 years. All of the studies considered were carried out in the years after 1990 and included at least one risk factor for diseases of the cardiovascular system in addition to body weight. The researchers found that a high body mass index (BMI; relation of body weight to height) has a significant impact on the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. For example, overweight children showed an increase in systolic blood pressure by 4.54 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In obese (obese) children, the average increase in systolic blood pressure compared to normal weight was as much as 7.49 mm Hg.

Fat children with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases The cholesterol levels and the concentration of triglycerides were also significantly higher in overweight children than in normal people. For cholesterol, the average increase was 0.15 millimoles per liter (mmol / L) for triglycerides 0.26 millimoles per liter. Increased insulin resistance was also observed in the obese children, which are considered signs of an increased risk of diabetes. The researchers found this connection only in the obese, not in the overweight children. Friedemann and colleagues conclude that "with a body mass index outside the normal range, risk parameters for cardiovascular diseases in school age are significantly worsened". In particular, obesity has a significant impact on the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in children under the age of five, the researchers write in the current BMJ article.

Childhood obesity epidemic? The health consequences of being overweight could therefore be significantly higher than previously assumed, especially if the risk factors persist for years. For example, the risk of suffering a stroke or heart disease in adults as a result of being permanently overweight is 30 to 40 percent higher than that of people with normal weight, the researchers at Oxford University report. In a commentary on Claire Friedemann's article, Lee Hudson and Russel Viner from University College London (UCL) write that the current study makes a significant contribution to understanding the health effects of the "childhood obesity epidemic" in modern industrialized countries. The results are "worrying", but it remains to be seen what long-term consequences the current generation of obese children and adolescents will actually suffer.

Childhood overweight causes organic changes Hudson and Viner were particularly critical of the organic changes found in the current study in obese children. Friedemann and colleagues found an increase in the left ventricular mass (enlargement of the left ventricle) in the obese children, which is usually only seen in older people with chronic high blood pressure. In general, the difference in the current study was that the immediate effects of being overweight in childhood were recorded, while most previous scientific studies focused more on the consequences of being overweight in later life. The meta study by the research team led by Claire Friedemann offers a "blatant representation of the likely threat that childhood obesity brings with it," said Viner and Hudson. So far, however, the question remains open as to whether the health risks due to being overweight increase linearly with age or increase particularly sharply from a certain age limit. If such a limit could be determined, it could serve as an indication of the age from which something urgently needs to be done about obesity. (fp)

Read on:
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Unhealthy nutrition in Germany's clinics
Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic

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Video: Preventing Obesity in Children


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