Obese Kids Showing Signs of Heart Disease

Canadian doctors have discovered that the blood vessels of obese children have stiffness normally seen in much older adults with cardiovascular disease.

“We were surprised to find that these obese children already have stiff blood vessels,” says Dr. Kevin Harris from B.C. Children’s Hospital. “Aortic stiffness is an early indicator of cardiovascular disease in obese children.”

The mean age of the children in Dr. Harris’s study was 13 years.

He says it is as if the aging process has been accelerated in their aorta.

The Study

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

“The systolic blood pressure was only marginally higher in these obese children,” says Dr. Harris. Blood lipid levels – total, HDL and LDL cholesterol – were normal. However, ultrasound of the heart showed that the Pulse Wave Velocity and other measures of arterial health were already abnormal in the obese children.

He says these findings are highly significant because the elastic qualities of their aorta were impaired even though other measures of heart health such as blood lipid levels and blood pressure were not dramatically different.

Dr. Harris says the next step should be to determine whether these changes are reversible with treatment such as improved diet and exercise.

Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

7 thoughts on “Obese Kids Showing Signs of Heart Disease

  • October 28, 2010 at 2:16 am

    thats right, our modern life styles were sometimes putting hazards to our children. We must need to do some reviews about this issue and see its possible impact on our kids and society as a whole..

  • October 26, 2010 at 10:55 am

    We must rethink the lifestyle standards we have accepted as a society to protect the future health of our kids.

  • October 25, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Same here in Australia. But the kids don’t buy the groceries, the parents do! There is so much publicity and health education both in schools, on TV and in the media so no excuse really for ignorance. Can’t figure why parents woulodn’t want their kids to be healthy.
    Patricia Perth Australia

    • October 27, 2010 at 6:55 am

      Haha Pat,

      I think we have the top ranking as the fattest nation in the world. I think the issue is the parents not setting an example or are just plain ignorant. The other thing is I think it’s so prevalent here, that it runs in the family.

  • October 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Overweight children seem to be a world wide phenomena now. Here in New Zealand we have exactly the same problem.

    They say this is the first generation of children ever – like in the history of the world – that are likely to die before their parents. That is so very sad.

    As Nicole said, it is a form of child abuse and yet I’m sure these parents love their kids dearly.


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