The young people who were obese or had diabetes were more likely to have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as higher blood pressure and high levels of blood fats such as cholesterol, the study found. But those factors did not account for the significant changes in artery structure and function, the researchers said.
According to Urbina, the detection of unhealthy artery changes in young, obese or diabetic people "demonstrates the need for research in this area."
One expert said the findings reinforce prior research.
"This is more evidence that obesity is not good for young people," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Colorado, a spokesman for the American Heart Association. However, it's not clear from the study how damaging obesity might be in these young people, Eckel said.
"How important [the findings are] in terms of what is to follow is not clear," he said, noting that the consequences for adult health of obesity in childhood are not set in stone.
"There can be intervention to modify risk, not necessarily to reduce obesity but to control blood pressure and blood lipids more aggressively. I would like to see further studies that follow these young people with and without intervention for 10 years," Eckel said.
In the meantime, rising childhood obesity is now a troubling fact of life for doctors who see young patients, Urbina added. A kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, and "at least once a month, I see a child who weighs more in kilograms than I weigh in pounds," she said. "Yesterday, I saw that in an 11-year-old."
The child and youth obesity problem is an issue for schools as well as parents, Urbina said. Schools must play a role, because "80 percent of the calories children consume are outside the control of parents," she said, and also because schools often do not emphasize physical activities that can help prevent excess wei
All rights reserved