increases your risk for cardiovascular disease in adulthood. But what has not been known previously is how independent this effect is, or what happens if you become normal weight as an adult," said senior study author Dr. Olli Raitakari, a professor in cardiovascular medicine at the Research Center of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku in Finland. "What we found consistently across these cohorts is that childhood overweight or obesity is not an independent risk factor, but that those children who become non-obese or normal weight adults have a similar risk as those kids who maintain normal weight over their whole lives."
Children were considered overweight if they had a BMI of 25 or above; obese is 30 and above. About 12.2 percent of kids were overweight or obese. Among adults, 55 percent were overweight or obese.
Dr. Albert Rocchini, a professor of pediatrics at University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, said the findings underscore the importance of preventing overweight and obesity in children, and of dealing with it early in life if children do start to gain excessive weight.
"If you are overweight as a child you have the potential of causing yourself to have a higher incidence of heart disease as an adult, but you also have the potential, if you can reverse the weight gain, to normalize that," Rocchini said. "Just because you're overweight as a child and have increased cardiovascular risk, it doesn't mean your cardiovascular risk is permanent if you can lose the weight before you become an adult."
To help kids maintain a normal weight, focus on the basics, Rocchini said. Children need to get lots of physical activity. Watch their portion sizes, and encourage them to eat lots of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, and limit high-fat, high-sugar snacks and foods.
"Parents and caregivers need to notice when their young kids are overweight and they need to do something right
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