Having obesity as a kid doesn’t just create immediate risks. According to a new study, it may also set the stage for significant health problems later on.
While being obese in childhood is known to predict adulthood obesity, the study’s purpose was to learn about other potential and undetermined weight-related health risks that might take root in the early years. Specifically, the researchers focused on how childhood obesity related to cardiovascular disease and abnormal blood sugar levels that result in disease.
To understand the risks, they accessed 18 studies to obtain data on body mass index, skinfold thickness and waist circumference from more than 300,000 individuals at about 10 years old and again 25 years later.
Analysis showed a correlation between obesity in childhood and both arterial damage
and impaired glucose tolerance. Childhood obesity was also found to be a weak-to-moderate predictor of adult atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
“The adverse effects of adult obesity are well known, but what we have found is that obesity in childhood can cause lasting arterial damage, which could potentially lead to life threatening illness,“ said lead author Martin Whyte, PhD, clinical senior lecturer in metabolic medicine at the University of Surrey in England. “This is something that we need to address to protect adult health and reduce pressure on the [healthcare system].“
The report was published in Obesity Reviews (2017; doi: 10.1111/obr.12561).