Young children should be active. Photo credit: di the huntress
New research shows that overweight children as young as age 3 can begin to show signs of cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Researchers analyzed levels of “good” cholesterol and of C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation that can warn of cardiovascular disease, in children ages 3 to 6.
They found that children with high BMIs and large waist circumferences were more likely to have elevated levels of the protein and lower levels of good cholesterol than children of normal weight.
This means that even at this young age, being overweight increases cardiovascular disease risk factors.
In adults, the relationship between obesity and elevated bad cholesterol and C-reactive protein is well-established.
Researchers said that all children should have their BMI and waist circumference monitored, and if the numbers are going up, doctors and parents should intervene. They expressed concern, saying that since we have never had so many heavy young children, we don’t know the cumulative effect of many years of having all of your internal organs under stress from being overweight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children as young as 2 start having their cholesterol levels screened if they have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, and that screening for all children should start no later than age ten.
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