Study confirms childhood, adolescent obesity influence cardiac health

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Washington, May 12 : A new study has confirmed that childhood and adolescent obesity negatively impacts vascular endothelial function, which in turn is linked to cardiac health.

Obesity is rapidly increasing worldwide and has long been linked to cardiovascular disease.

What is worrisome is that its incidence in children is on a high and a number of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood have their roots in childhood.

It is a widely known fact that healthy endothelium (a single cell layer that lines all blood vessels) is vital in maintaining vascular health. However, endothelial "dysfunction" is one of the major contributor to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (the buildup of fatty deposits on the inside walls of arteries) in adults and is characterised with increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and congestive heart failure.

One can measure endothelial function non-invasively in children by using venous occlusion plethysmography (VOP), a technique that measures responses of arm blood vessel responses to an inflatable cuff that externally halts and restarts blood flow. It has been shown that this method is correlated with coronary artery function in adults with heart disease.

The study was aimed to investigate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and endothelial function measured via VOP in 76 children and adolescents with ages ranging from 9 to 18. BMI is a number calculated from a person's weight and height and it provides a reliable indicator of the amount of body fat.

"My colleagues in the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's and I found that regardless of age, race or sex, obesity in children and adolescents negatively impacts their endothelial function. Considering the connection between endothelial function and heart disease, this information is alarming given the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity in our country," said Judith Groner, MD, a pediatrician in Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

He presented the findings of the study at the Paediatric Academic Societies and Asian Society for Paediatric Research Joint Meeting.

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