Obese Teens Already Have Heart Damage

Monday, May 28, 2012
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Sobering news was presented at the annual meeting of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology: Obese teens, without any signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease, were found to have significant structural and functional damage to their hearts.

The researchers found that as the BMI increased in these teens so did the thickness of the arteries of the heart.  Increased structural thickness correlated with decreased left ventricular velocity, indicating that the structural heart problems were impairing healthy heart function.

This study is a bit of a shocker as it shows adverse changes to the heart prior to the onset of a cardiovascular risk profile.  This means that parents could think their obese child is simply overweight but not in any real trouble that needs attention.

This study implies that diligent efforts to help overweight children lose weight must be a priority.  Obesity will drastically impair the health of young people, at ever-earlier ages.  Twenty years ago type 2 diabetes was virtually non existent in teens.  Now it is common.

The fact that obesity in teens is correlated with heart damage is a major wake-up call.  If nothing is done we will have a generation of citizens who have health debilitating heart disease in their 30’s. 

There are plenty of BMI calculators on the WEB.  Another easy and highly accurate test is to measure the waistline and compare the measurement to height.  Waistline circumference in inches times two should never be more than height in inches; this measurement is appropriate for children and teens.  Once this line is crossed we know that cardiovascular disease processes have been set in motion, regardless of age.  Unfortunately, we now know that such processes include heart damage.  Such damage is reversible over time, but only if weight is lost.

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