Two new studies linking overweight in childhood with adult heart disease gives "a frightening glimpse of what we have in store," according to David S. Ludwig of Harvard Medical School.
The studies are the first to confirm that children who are overweight have a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease as adults. These conclusions are important because the percentage of overweight children in the United States has tripled since 1976 and now numbers over nine million.
Researchers from the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, Denmark, examined the height/weight charts of more than 276,000 Danish children between 1955 and 1960, and then looked through hospital records from 1977 to 2001 to find the ones who had been hospitalized for heart disease.
"Even a few extra pounds put a child at risk," said Jennifer Baker of the Copenhagen Institute.
If the child lost weight before age 13 years and remained at normal weight, his chances of developing heart disease returned to normal.
A second study from the University of California at San Francisco produced similar results using U.S. federal statistics.
"Overweight children are losing their childhood," said Melinda Sothern, and expert on childhood obesity at Louisiana State University. "They can't do the same types of activities as healthy weight children. Now they will lose their early adulthood as well."
Labels: health_risks, activity, quality_of_life
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