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Poor Diet Linked to Early Signs of Heart Risks in Obese Kids
Date:3/22/2011

TUESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity often saddles teenagers with a wide variety of conditions that boost the risk of heart disease, such as inflammation, insulin resistance and signs of trouble in the metabolic system, a small new study suggests.

"The metabolic abnormalities suggest that the process of developing heart disease has already started in these children, making it critical for them to make definitive lifestyle and diet changes," said study senior author Dr. Ashutosh Lal, a pediatric hematologist at the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland in California, in a news release provided by the American Heart Association.

The findings were scheduled to be released Tuesday at the American Heart Association scientific sessions, held in Atlanta.

The researchers compared the diets of 33 young obese people (aged 11 to 19 years) to 19 people in the same age group who were of normal weight. The participants' weight category was determined using the body mass index score, which takes into account a person's height and weight.

The researchers also examined blood test results for each of the participants, all of whom received health care at an inner-city clinic in Oakland. Two-thirds the participants in each group were female, and both groups were racially diverse.

The obese teens showed signs of inflammation, insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes) and oxidative stress (which can lead to blood vessel damage), the investigators found.

"Looking at the numbers you would think these children might feel sick, but they did not," Lal said. "They are apparently feeling well, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface."

The problems could be related to poor diets that are low in fruit and vegetables, fiber and dairy products. The researchers found that teens in both groups weren't getting proper nutrition because they didn't eat enough of these types of foods, but the obese t
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