Two out of three severely obese children under the age of 12 have at least one risk factor for heart disease such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar, reveals a study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
On studying the data of 500 children collected between 2005 and 2007, Dutch researchers found that of 307 severely obese children, 67% had at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Study authors also found that over one in five severely obese children have at least two risk factors and 8% were found to have three. Hypertension or high blood pressure was the most common risk factor, which was present in 56% of the children.
It was found that more than 50% of the overweight children had low levels of “good” cholesterol, while 14% had high blood sugar. Only 1% of of the overweight children were found to have type 2 diabetes.
Researchers found that younger boys were more often severely obese compared to older boys, while they observed the reverse for girls. Study authors also observed that nearly one in three severely obese children came from one-parent families.
“Although it was a small study, the findings leave a bad taste in the mouth. It’s a huge concern so many obese children were identified as already having at least one risk factor for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood glucose and problems with cholesterol levels,” said Doireann Maddock, a senior cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation.
Maddock claimed that highlighting the importance of healthy eating and physical activity from an early age can help overcoming the problem of obesity.