Heart Disease Starts At Age 3 in Obese Kids, Doubles the Risk for Early Death

February 1, 2013 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Heart Disease Starts At Age 3 in Obese Kids, Doubles the Risk for Early Death
Two new studies are more than sufficient to scare the living daylights out of parents watching their child gain weight. The first, published in the journal Pediatrics1, shows that inflammatory changes that cause heart disease are clearly present at age 3 and steadily worsen up to age 17. The second, published in the New England Journal of Medicine2, shows that childhood obesity is the strongest factor linked to premature disease-associated death, more than doubling the risk.

In the Pediatrics study researchers analyzed children ages 1-17. The heaviest children had multiple markers of excess inflammation. Among very obese children ages 3-5, more than 42.5 percent had elevated CRP compared to only approximately 17 percent of healthy weight children. Among older children the difference was even more pronounced. In children ages 15-17, 83 percent of the very obese had elevated CRP compared to 18 percent of the healthy weight children.

“These findings were a surprise to us,” said lead author Asheley Cockrell Skinner, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine. “We're seeing a relationship between weight status and elevated inflammatory markers much earlier than we expected.”

Such inflammation is known to trigger damage to the arteries, setting the stage for earlier disease. The reality of such potential disease is confirmed by the NEJM study involving American Indian children born between 1945 and 1984. This is a unique study population because rates of obesity in this group occurred earlier in time due to their extreme inability to tolerate the American junk food diet. Thus, this group offers a view of what is likely to become of the current generation of American children with similar rates of obesity.

The obese children in this long-term study were found to have a 230 percent increased risk of death before age 55. Along with obesity, childhood high blood sugar and high blood pressure were found to be excellent predictors of future early death. Interestingly, high cholesterol in childhood was not linked to early mortality (this is not what the statin-scam industry wants to hear).

While a flat stomach is always best, the easiest way to monitor excessive weight gain in your children is to realize that their waistline in inches should never be more than 1/2 their height in inches. Crossing this line is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease markers in children.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Obese 3 Year Olds Developing Heart Disease  Prediatrics  1.Asheley Cockrell Skinner, Michael J. Steiner, Frederick W. Henderson, and Eliana M. Perrin.
  2. ^ Childhood Obesity and Premature Death  New England Journal of Medicine  PW Franks, RL Hanson, WC Knowler, ML Sievers, PH Bennett, HC Looker.

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