Childhood Obesity Fueling Spike in Diabetes
The obesity epidemic is taking new tolls on teens. Nearly a quarter of adolescents show signs of pre-diabetes and diabetes, according to a new survey published in the journal Pediatrics.
While the number of obese teens has remained relatively stagnant at 34%, the number of teens with pre-diabetes and diabetes has jumped from 9% to 23% in the past decade. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey included 3,383 teens ages 12-18 from 1999-2008. Researchers affiliated with The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention looked at whether teens exhibited cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The higher a teen's BMI was, the more likely they were to have a CVD risk.
Another new study pointed to additional cardiovascular disease risks in obese kids. Researchers used echocardiography results to study the hearts of 93 healthy kids ages 10 to 15. Children with higher BMIs had "thicker left ventricular walls and impaired systolic and diastolic subendocardial function." Thicker ventricular walls could elevate blood pressure, and subendocardial dysfunction could negatively impact the coronary arteries' ability to manage healthy blood flow in the heart. These are considered early signs of heart failure that could set up kids for cardiac disease later in life, author Dejan Maras told Medpage Today.
But being obese as a kid doesn't doom children to a life of health problems. A recent literature review found that overweight kids who shed pounds as adults significantly decreased their cardiovascular disease risks.
Making healthy lifestyle changes now could prevent kids from developing cardiovascular problems associated with obesity.
Juonala M, Magnussen C, Berenson G, et al. Childhood adiposity, adult adiposity, and cardiovascular risk factors. The New England Journal of Medicine 2011;365:1876-85.
Obese adolescents already have heart damage. Heart Failure Congress. European Society of Cardiology. May 21, 2012.
May AL, Kuklina EV, and Yoon PW. Childhood Cancer Incidence Trends in Association With US Folic Acid Fortification (1986–2008). Pediatrics 2012: doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3418.