Obese children and teenagers already show hints of future cardiovascular problems, new research has found.
German researchers studied 61 overweight and obese children 8-to 21-years-old, comparing them with 40 non-obese children of the same age. All were free of disease and not taking any medicines. The study is online in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.
Compared with children of normal weight, the obese group had significantly higher triglycerides, higher total cholesterol, lower HDL (“good cholesterol”) and higher LDL (“bad” cholesterol). They also had higher blood pressure, higher fasting glucose and higher fasting insulin readings.
Using echocardiograms, the researchers found that in obese children part of the heart muscle — the left ventricle — was thicker on average, which in an adult would be a sign of impending cardiovascular problems.
“We do not know if these changes are reversible with weight loss or how they will impact future cardiovascular disease in these subjects,” said the lead author, Dr. Norman Mangner, a cardiologist at the University of Leipzig.
The usual advice applies, Dr. Mangner said: Eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and get plenty of exercise. But, he added, “The changes seen in obese children are in the wrong direction of normal development and should therefore be taken seriously and as an incentive to change lifestyle.”
By Nicholas Bakalar