Obesity a Heartbreaker for Kids

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TUESDAY, Feb. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity and severe obesity have been added to the list of conditions that put children and teens at increased risk for early heart disease.

So says a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).

"Parents need to know that some medical conditions raise the chances of premature heart disease, but we are learning more every day about how lifestyle changes and medical therapies can lower their cardiovascular risk and help these children live their healthiest lives," statement writing group chair Dr. Sarah de Ferranti said in an AHA news release. She is chief of the Division of Cardiology Outpatient Services at Boston Children's Hospital.

The latest statement is an update of a 2006 statement. Other conditions that increase the risk of early heart disease in children and teens include type 1 and type 2 diabetes, familial high cholesterol, congenital heart disease, and surviving childhood cancer.

Severe obesity and obesity are now included as moderate-risk and at-risk conditions, respectively, because research shows they significantly increase the risk of heart disease later in life, according to the AHA.

For example, a study of nearly 2.3 million people who were followed for over 40 years found that the risk of dying from heart disease was two to three times higher if they had been overweight or obese as teens.

In general, a gradual approach to weight loss is required, including healthier eating, fewer calories, more physical activity, meal replacements, drug therapy, and/or weight-loss surgery depending on the severity of obesity.

The updated scientific statement was published Feb. 25 in the journal Circulation.

Other major changes to the statement since 2006 include: boosting type 2 diabetes to a high-risk condition due to its links with other heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity; and expanding the risks of early heart disease associated with treatments for childhood cancers.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on children and healthy weight.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 25, 2019

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