Heart warning in obese children

Obese children as young as three years old show signs of future heart disease, say US researchers.  A study of 16,000 children and teenagers showed the most obese had signs of an inflammatory marker which can predict future heart disease.  In all, 40% of obese three-to-five-year olds had raised levels of C-reactive protein compared with 17% of healthy weight children, Pediatrics reported.

The study, carried out by a team at the University of North Carolina (UNC), looked at children aged one to 17.  Overall, nearly 70% were a healthy weight, 15% were overweight, 11% were obese and 3.5% were very obese.  In the older age groups, the proportion of those in the very obese category with high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) increased even further.  By age 15-17, 83% of the very obese had increased CRP compared with 18% of the healthy weight children.

CRP is found in the blood, and high levels are a sign of inflammation in the body.  Because the damage seen in heart disease is caused by inflammation in artery walls, CRP can be used as a general marker for the risk of heart disease.  This study tells us that very young, obese children already have more inflammation than children who are not obese, and that’s very concerning

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