Two-thirds of severely obese children already have increased risk factor for heart disease
A Dutch study reveals two-thirds of severely obese children already have one risk factor for heart disease including children as young as two years.
The nationwide prospective surveillance study was carried out in the Netherlands from July 2005 to July 2007. Pediatricians were asked to report all new cases of severe obesity in children aged two to eighteen years to the Dutch Paediatric Surveillance Unit. Pediatricians were asked to complete a questionnaire for each severely obese child in regards to demographic characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors; blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and lipids.View slideshow: Health Risks of Overweight Children
Among the children 500 new cases of severely obese children had been reported (severe obesity is defined by gender and age-dependent cut-off points for body mass index based on Dutch National Growth Studies corresponding to the adult cut-off point of 35 kg/m).
Researchers found overall 67% of the children had at least one cardiovascular risk factor (56% hypertension, 14% high blood glucose, 0.7% type 2 diabetes and up to 54% low HDL-cholesterol), 17% had two risk factors, 8% least three factors and 2.5% had at least four.
The most prevalent of the risk factors was high blood pressure occurring in more than half of the children and more than half of the children younger than 12 years.
It was also found boys older than 12 seem to have more risk factors than the other age and sex categories. Primarily older boys tend to have higher triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol). Older girls as well had lower HDL compared to those younger than 12 years.
The researchers concluded “A high number (2/3) of severely obese children have cardiovascular risk factors. Internationally accepted criteria for defining severe obesity and guidelines for early detection and treatment of severe obesity and comorbidity are urgently needed.”
This study appears in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The Netherlands is not the only country with obesity in children and teens as the United States has the same problems when it comes to cardiovascular risk factors in children.
Research from the Centers of Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) published May 2011, in Pediatrics, had revealed 49% of overweight teens and almost two-thirds of obese teens had one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The risk factors had included prehypertension/hypertension, low HDL, prediabetes and diabetes.
A study conducted in 2009, by researchers at Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville and Dr. Charles DelGiorno, an endocrine trainee from the Mayo Clinic, had found children as early as age seven being obese may raise the future risk of heart disease and stroke without the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure.
The research team had wanted to know if simple obesity could raise cardiovascular risk factors before metabolic syndrome develops. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that raise the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Researchers screened over 300 individuals aged seven to eighteen years and included just those without the features of metabolic syndrome which consisted of 202 participants. Among the participants in the study 115 were obese and 87 lean that were the control group. Children that were classified as obese had a BMI above the 95th percentile for their age, sex and height. All study participants underwent blood testing for known markers that predict the development of cardiovascular disease. These included elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which is a marker of inflammation, and abnormally high fibrinogen, a clotting factor, among others.
Obese children had a 10-fold higher CRP and higher fibrinogen concentrations, compared to the control group. These abnormalities were seen in children as young as seven years.
Dr. Mauras lead research of study stated “Doctors often do not treat obesity in children now unless they have other features of the metabolic syndrome.” This practice should be reconsidered.”
According to the CDC Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. Over 16% of Michigan youth (9th–12th grades) are overweight, and another are 12% obese, according to 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data.
To find out more about overweight and obesity in children the information is available from the University of Michigan online.