teen heart disease

Overweight teens showing signs of heart disease.

Obese children are showing signs of heart disease at the age of 15, researchers warn.  A study has revealed that being overweight throughout adolescence sows the seeds of ill-health for decades to come.


It is the first to investigate the link between body mass index (BMI), waist size and fat mass of pre-teen children and subsequent heart risk factors in late adolescence.

The findings show that children who have a high BMI at the age of nine and stay fat are more likely to have high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood insulin levels – all risk factors for heart disease– by the time they reach 15.

However, children who achieve a healthy weight are able to lower their risk, says a report online in the British Medical Journal.

The study of 5,235 children, led by Professor Debbie Lawlor from the University of Bristol, is part of a bigger research project which has tracked the health of more than 14,000 children since birth.

The researchers assessed the BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass of children between the ages of nine and 12.

BMI is a score based on an individual’s weight and height, although for children, the age and sex has to be taken into account because boys have less natural fat than girls.

When the children reached the ages of 15 and 16 their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and insulin levels were tested.

The results showed that a high BMI between the ages of nine and 12 was associated with signs of heart disease at 15-16, even when the analysis was adjusted for a wide range of other factors.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘There are now alarming signs of hardening of the arteries among obese youngsters.

He said if a public health White Paper due to be published next week does not address the problem then it will be ‘found grossly wanting’.

Cathy Ross, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘It’s reassuring to see evidence that shows making changes to your lifestyle reduces your risk of heart disease, whatever your age.

‘Overweight children who successfully tackle their weight problem by the time they reach adolescence appear to be able to reduce their risk of heart disease, which is positive news.

‘However, we must work to prevent them becoming overweight in the first place as many obese children don’t achieve a healthy weight.

‘Helping youngsters to understand lifestyle messages can be very challenging but making sure they balance healthy eating with regular physical activity is vital.’

Via Daily Mail