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Early Weight Gain Can Mean Heart Trouble Later in Life
Date:11/5/2007

Children as young as 7 show signs of cardiovascular risk factors, study finds

MONDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Parents don't let your children grow up to be fat -- or even fat when they start grade school.

Children reach a low point in their body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) early in life, before the BMI rises in concert with childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

But the earlier a child reaches his or her low point and starts gaining weight (called BMI rebound), the greater the chances of developing cardiovascular risk factors as young as age 7, a new study found.

"Plump is not good. We're seeing adverse cardiovascular risk factors developing in early childhood," said Dr. Thomas R. Kimball, study senior author and a pediatric cardiologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The obesity epidemic of kids today is going to be the heart disease epidemic 20 years from now."

Pediatricians need to scrupulously monitor their patients' BMI, even their very young patients, said the authors of the study, which was presented Monday at the American Heart Association annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

"This goes to show you that it's never too early to prevent heart disease," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Women's Health Program at New York University Medical Center and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. "It's really important given all that we know about kids not exercising as much as they used to and eating high-fat, high-calorie fast food meals. We really need to stop it."

Previous research had shown that the earlier in childhood BMI rebound occurs, the greater the risk of obesity and obesity-related disease later in life. Overweight and obesity are growing problems for American children. U.S. figures estimate that 17 percent of children aged 2 to 19 years and 18.8 percent of children aged 6 to 11 are overweight.

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