Food for Thought
A study in the December 6 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine gives new credence to keeping kids fit throughout childhood: children who carry excess weight are more likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) when they become adults.
Researchers investigated the association between body mass index (BMI) in children (ages 7–13) and CHD when they reached adulthood (ages 25 and up). The subjects were a cohort of 276,835 Danish schoolchildren born between 1930 and 1976 who underwent mandatory annual health examinations at public and private schools.
The researchers found that higher BMI in childhood was associated with an increased risk of CHD in adulthood. The association was stronger in boys than in girls and increased with age (i.e., elevated BMI scores at 13 years of age were more strongly linked to CHD than elevated scores earlier in childhood).
The researchers concluded that “the linear association we identified between childhood BMI and adult CHD suggests that more children than ever before are facing increased risks of CHD in adulthood.”
The findings were not all gloom and doom, said the researchers. “Since the magnitude of the risk was moderate for 7-year-olds and increased dramatically by the age of 13, these results suggest the possibility of intervention during this period of childhood to reduce the risk of future CHD.” They also recommended that “a focus be placed on helping children to attain and maintain appropriate weight to prevent future adverse health consequences.”