*The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.
If your children struggle with their weight, new research suggests they may also suffer from diseases once seen only in adults.
Stiffening of the arteries, which can lead to early heart attacks and strokes, and type 2 diabetes were found in many of the more than 600 obese children, adolescents, and young adults studied. And the problem is only getting worse: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the pandemic obesity among American children has jumped from 19% to 22%.
“We’re all very well aware that childhood, adolescence, and adulthood obesity rates are quite staggering, and the risk for related chronic diseases is quite pervasive,” said senior researcher Joseph Kindler, an assistant professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens. “Unfortunately, we’re at a point that we’re able to see these really severe complications earlier and earlier in the lifespan. Our youngest participant in this study was 10 years old — it’s pretty phenomenal, unfortunately.”
Kindler said that what early diabetes and heart disease mean for these children as they get older isn’t known, but he fears that they may have a heightened risk for chronic conditions as adults.
For the study, Kindler and his colleagues measured abdominal fat and arterial stiffness in more than 600 children, adolescents, and young adults aged 10 to 23.
The investigators found higher levels of visceral fat and arterial stiffness in the overweight participants, which suggests that abdominal fat is likely to cause cardiovascular problems in kids.
Although studies of cardiovascular risks among children are limited, changes to the cardiovascular system likely begin early, the researchers noted.
In addition to the growing risk for heart disease, being overweight or obese increases the risk for type 2 diabetes. Kindler’s team found that 145 of the study participants already suffered from the condition.
The report was published online recently in the journal Pediatric Obesity.