Heart risk symptoms found in overweight primary school children
According to a new study conducted in The Netherlands, overweight children could be putting their hearts at danger while in primary school.
In most cases the first signs of heart disease do not become apparent until middle age, but experts in Holland found early warnings in children aged between two and 12 years.
Researchers from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam looked at 307 children between 2005 and 2007 and found that two-thirds had at least one symptom, most notably high blood pressure.
In the majority of cases it was due to the fact that the child was grossly overweight, a problem which is growing around the world.
Indeed, a two-year-old child with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 20.5 would be considered to be obese. At the age of 18, a BMI greater than 35 is a indication of severe obesity.
"Remarkably, 62 per cent of severely obese children under 12 years of age already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors," the study stated.
More than 50 per cent of these children were found to have high blood pressure, but there were also several cases of low "good cholesterol" and high blood sugar, which is a leading cause of Type 2 diabetes.
"Although it was a small study, the findings leave a bad taste in the mouth," Doireann Maddock, a senior cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said.
"It's a huge concern so many obese children were identified as already having at least one risk factor for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood glucose and problems with cholesterol levels.
"However, this is a problem that can be addressed by stopping young people becoming overweight and obese in the first place."
The study was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal.