Overweight Children Develop Heart Disease Early

Girl on ScalesObese children show symptoms of heart disease typically seen in older adults. Canadian pediatrician Kevin Harris tested 63 obese children, an average of 13 years old. They had an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 33 and were at least 50 pounds overweight.

An ultrasound evaluation of the aorta revealed uncharacteristic loss of the heart muscle’s normal, healthy elasticity. This type of stiffness in the body’s largest artery is not usually seen except in middle aged adults who have heart disease. The children’s blood pressure was also slightly higher than in normal weight children.

Childhood obesity is reviving and intensifying the epidemic of heart disease and strokes that are the leading causes of death among Western societies.

Being obese while young also increases the risk of diabetes. Recent estimates predict that one out of three adults will have diabetes by 050.

Healthful eating habits, moderate daily exercise and weight management can forestall these complications and decrease the premature deaths associated with obesity.