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Childhood obesity may impact on heart health in later life

“Obese children ‘more likely to have heart attack or stroke in adulthood',” warns The Guardian.

The news is based on a large review from researchers at Oxford University who collated a number of smaller studies carried out over the past few decades, involving a total of 49,220 children, that were looking at whether childhood obesity could increase cardiovascular risk factors (factors that can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes).

They were shocked to find that many obese children did have risk factors you would normally expect to see in much older adults, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, high fasting insulin levels (which are often a precursor to type 2 diabetes) and thickened heart muscles (a sign of damage to the heart).

A related editorial, which, like this study, was published in the British Medical Journal, said that this review “provides a stark illustration of the probable threat that childhood obesity poses to disease burden in the population”. A fact reinforced by the recent publication of a report into children in England that found that a fifth of year six children (aged around 11-12) were found to be obese.

The editorial argued that “opportunistic measurement of BMI (body mass index) and co-morbidities may be a useful first step in helping families move towards tackling childhood obesity”.

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