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Health Risks Escalate for Overweight Kids

Study finds unexpected differences between blacks, whites

SATURDAY, April 30, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Severely obese children have lipoprotein abnormalities that indicate early risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, according to new research.

Although all obese children were found to have an increased risk, the researchers said that white children faced a higher risk than black children.

People with metabolic syndrome are more likely to have type 2 diabetes, a stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease.

The findings on children's risk stem from a study that was to be presented Saturday at the American Heart Association's annual conference on cardiovascular disease, epidemiology and prevention in Washington, D.C. The study included 160 children who averaged 13 years old and had been evaluated at the pediatric lipid clinic at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Severe obesity was defined as a body mass index of 36 and above.

Researchers found that white and black children had differences in the sizes and subclasses of lipoproteins.

"The obese white children have significantly higher early risk of cardiovascular disease than the obese black children according to this test," study lead author Dr. Daniel L. Preud'Homme, associate professor of medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine and director of the lipid clinic at The Children's Medical Center in Dayton, said in a prepared statement.

This was an unexpected finding, he said. Previous studies of the general population have found the opposite to be true for a number of risk factors, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

The latest study found:

  • 46 percent of white children and 29 percent of black children had low levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, representing greatly increased cardiovascular risk.
  • 62 percent of white children and 31 percent of black children had high levels of very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), which also represents a significant cardiovascular risk.
  • 45 percent of white children and 19 percent of black children had LDL pattern B -- a lipid profile with an unusually high number of small, dense LDL particles believed to increase cardiovascular risk.
  • 53 percent of white children and 21 percent of black children had two or more blood lipoprotein levels (small LDL, low numbers of large HDL, and increased VLDL), associated with metabolic syndrome.

"The message is urgent about the importance of prevention of cardiovascular disease in childhood," Preud'Homme said. "Lifestyle modification with appropriate diet and exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk in children."

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about childhood obesity.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, April 30, 2005
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