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Exercise Improves Heart Risk Factors in Obese Teens

Three hours a week for six months reduces carotid intima-media thickness

MONDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Six months of exercise can boost vascular function in obese adolescents and improve their cardiovascular disease risk factors, including a reduction in carotid intima-media thickness, researchers report in the Nov. 7 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Andreas A. Meyer, M.D., of the University of Rostock Children's Hospital in Rostock, Germany, and colleagues analyzed the effects of a six-month exercise program on 67 obese children (mean age 14.7), who were randomly assigned to three hours of exercise a week or no exercise, and compared them to lean controls. At baseline, the obese children had a flow-mediated vasodilation of 4.09 and a carotid intima-media thickness of 0.48, versus 10.65 and 0.37, respectively, for the lean children.

After six months, the researchers found that the obese children who exercised had flow-mediated vasodilation of 7.71 and a carotid intima-media thickness of 0.44. Exercise improved the children's body mass index and other key cardiovascular risk factors.

"The present study documented increased intima-media thickness, impaired endothelial function, and various elevated cardiovascular risk factors in young obese subjects," the authors write. "Regular exercise over six months restores endothelial function and improves carotid intima-media thickness associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile in obese children."

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