Obese teenagers show signs of heart disease

Obese teenagers show signs of heart disease that are usually only seen in older people, study reveals

  • Found the arteries of overweight children had already begun to stiffen by 17 
  • The research was published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health
  • Each child had their body fat measured every other year from the age of nine

British teenagers are showing signs of future heart disease that are usually seen only in older people, a study has revealed.

Researchers found that the arteries of children who were seriously overweight throughout secondary school had already begun to stiffen by the time they were 17.

This will put them at greater risk of having a heart attack or a stroke in later years.

Research has found the arteries of British children who were seriously overweight throughout secondary school had already begun to stiffen by the time they were 17

Healthy arteries are elastic, enabling them to expand and contract to control blood pressure. But when fatty deposits build up, they become more rigid, leading to high blood pressure.

Over time, the fatty deposits can build up further, narrowing the arteries and raising the risk of heart attack and stroke. Stiffening arteries are usually associated with middle and old age.

The research, published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, used data on 3,423 children born in the Bristol area in 1991 and 1992. 

Each child had their body fat measured every other year from the age of nine, and had a special scan to determine arterial stiffness at 17.

The study looked at the data of 3,423 children born in the Bristol area in 1991 and 1992

Those with the stiffest arteries were obese children whose blood pressure, blood fat levels and amounts of blood sugar were all high. 

Those with the healthiest arteries were normal weight and without those problems.

Professor Naveed Sattar, an NHS cardiologist who undertakes research at Glasgow University and who was part of the study team, said: ‘It’s worrying, because you wouldn’t expect such a degree of stiffness in a normal weight child of 17. 

‘There is a clear association between obesity and excess body fat, and stiff arteries.’

 

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