CHAPEL HILL Young children who lead inactive lifestyles are five-to-six times more likely to be at serious risk of heart disease, with that degree of danger emerging as early as their teenage years, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The findings, published Friday (April 4) in the open access journal Dynamic Medicine, looked at a group of children twice first while in grade school, then again seven years later when they were in their teens.
Researchers wanted to know more about the early onset of metabolic syndrome, a condition more commonly found in adults. Metabolic syndrome is the label given to a clustering of medical disorders that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, such as glucose intolerance, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, low HDL (so-called good) cholesterol and obesity. Previous studies have found that somewhere from four percent to nine percent of adolescents have the condition.
However, until now, no one had tracked the same group of children over time to see just how fitness and activity levels in their early years played a role in the likelihood of them developing metabolic syndrome by the time they were teenagers, said Robert McMurray, professor of exercise and sports science in the department of exercise and sports science in UNCs College of Arts and Sciences.
The study looked at data from almost 400 children between the ages of seven and 10 from across North Carolina. Researchers measured factors such as height, body mass, percentage body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Participants were also surveyed about their physical activity and given an aerobic fitness test.
When the same children were examined again seven years later, 4.6 percent had three or more characteristics of metabolic syndrome.
McMurray said adolescents with the syndrome were six times more likely to have had low aerobic fitness as childr
|Contact: Patric Lane|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill