It's no surprise that children struggling with obesity may have greater health risks later in life. But researchers were surprised by a recent study indicating that those risks may begin much earlier than previously thought.
According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal and conducted by researchers at Oxford University, obese children as young as 5 years old were already showing signs of heart disease that could seriously increase their risk of heart attacks and stroke as they get older.
For the study, researchers analyzed 63 studies involving 49,000 children aged 5 to 15, all of whom were from "highly developed" countries. Researchers found that obese and overweight children had higher blood pressure than their normal-weight peers. Obese children also had higher cholesterol and insulin levels, and signs of heart disease — such as a thickening of the heart muscle — compared with children who were not considered obese.
These signs are all considered cardiovascular risk factors that can increase an obese child's chance of stroke and heart disease by as much as 40 percent compared to their normal-weight peers. This risk factor is far greater and more worrisome than previously thought. It also increases the need for early intervention on obesity to try to minimize health problems before permanent damage is done.
Source: The Australian