Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Canadian Study Finds Obese Children Have Heart Problems

Dads! Maybe it's time to give up the Happy Meals and dust off the baseball mitts?

A recent study of 63 obese children in Canada found that they have heart problems usually associated with adults with cardiovascular disease.

"We were surprised to find that these obese children already have stiff blood vessels," Dr. Kevin Harris from B.C.'s Children's Hospital told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

"Aortic stiffness is an early indicator of cardiovascular disease in obese children," Dr. Harris explained.

The results of his study indicate that the aging process has been accelerated in the aorta of grossly overweight children.

Dr. Harris and colleagues evaluated 63 obese children and compared them with 55 normal weight controls.

According to a press release from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, blood pressure was taken, lipids evaluated, and body mass index measured. Children then underwent echocardiography, or ultrasound, of the heart and blood vessels. This test was used to determine the Pulse Wave Velocity in the aorta. This is a measure of how fast blood flows and was one of the measures used to assess aortic stiffness.

Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson says the rate of childhood obesity has tripled over the last 25 years and it continues to increase. Over 25 per cent of Canadian children between the ages of two and 17 years are overweight or obese, with the percent increasing with age from 21 percent among those two to five years to 29 percent among those aged 12 to 17.

Researchers don't know if the ill effects of obesity are reversible but it has been found that reducing processed food consumption, eating fresh healthy food (and lots of leafy greens), spending more time outside, and exercising as a family all help prevent childhood obesity.