Are obese kids at higher risk of developing heart disease?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Child obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. But being overweight is just the beginning. New research shows young kids are at risk for heart trouble.
“Most of the time we’re interested in studying 70- to 80-, 90-year-old people and the affects of cardiovascular disease in that population,” said Dr. Grayson Wheatley with the Arizona Heart Institute. “So to be studying cardiovascular disease in the under-18 population is a new area.”

A new area because in the past linking kids to cardiovascular disease was extremely rare.

“It's very clear from looking at this study that there are a number of variables going on from a lifestyle or environmental standpoint that is influencing the health of these children in an unfortunate way,” Wheatley said.

The doctor is talking about a new study in the Netherlands. Of the severely obese kids tracked, 67 percent had at least one risk factor for heart disease. And these are kids who ranged in age between 2 and 18.
“So if we just go back track and we have kids 9 and 10 years old, and we know it takes about 20 years for the impact of obesity and inactivity to affect these children, then we're starting to talk about having to treat cardiovascular disease at a much earlier age then we have ever had to do,” Wheatley said.

This is information that should be a wake-up call for parents.

“I think clearly whatever advice we’re giving to children is not working and we need to relook at that and reexamine what advice it's going to take to reverse many of the problems,” Wheatley continued.

The doctor said it all starts with the basics. This includes a good diet and exercise.

“The message parents should be taking away is that they need to be looking at the health of their children right now,” Wheatley said.

The study can be found in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.