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Overweight Preschoolers Raise Their Heart Disease Risk
Date:3/11/2009

Study found they showed early signs of cardiovascular trouble

WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- In yet another sign that obesity poses health risks at any age, new research shows that overweight children as young as age 3 can begin to show signs of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

About 24 percent of U.S. children aged 2 to 5 are overweight, defined as having a body-mass index (BMI) in the 85th percentile or above for their height and age. That number rises to 33 percent among children aged 6 to 11, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using data on 3,098 children aged 3 to 6 taking part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers analyzed levels of HDL, or "good," cholesterol and C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation that can warn of cardiovascular disease.

They found that children with high BMIs and large waist circumferences were more likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein and lower levels of HDL cholesterol than children of normal weight. Data on LDL, or "bad," cholesterol was not available.

"Overall, as waist circumference and body-mass index increases, HDL cholesterol decreases and C-reactive protein increases," said study author Sarah Messiah, a research assistant professor at the University of Miami. "It's pretty clear that even at this young age, these cardiovascular risk factors are in motion."

The findings were expected to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference, in Palm Harbor, Fla.

About 12 percent of children aged 2 to 5 are obese, defined as having BMIs in the 95th percentile or above for their height and weight, according to the CDC. Among children aged 6 to 11, 17 percent are obese.

In the study, researchers noted that links between children's weight and levels of cholesterol and C-rea
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