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Premature Death Could Await Obese Kids
Date:2/10/2010

They have double the odds of dying before age 55, study finds,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Obese children are at a greater risk of dying young, a new study finds.

In fact, obese children are twice as likely to die before age 55 as are normal-weight children. In addition, because many people who die in early adulthood leave behind young families, this poses a multigenerational, societal problem, the researchers point out.

"The results of this study suggest that obesity prevention should begin in early childhood," said lead researcher Paul William Franks, an associate professor of experimental medicine and head of the genetic epidemiology and clinical research group at Umea University Hospital in Umea, Sweden. "This will involve ensuring our children eat healthy, well-balanced diets and maintain physically active lifestyles."

If the rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar continue to increase in today's children, "human life span may decrease," Franks said.

The study's findings are reported in the Feb. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, Franks and his colleagues collected data on 4,857 American Indian children, born between 1945 and 1984. About 29 percent of the children, from the Pima and Tohono O'odham communities in Arizona, were obese -- a prevalence comparable to that of African American and Hispanic children in the United States today and making the findings applicable to other ethnic groups, the researchers said.

In their analysis, the researchers looked for a correlation between weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and death before age 55. Over almost 24 years, 166 people in the study died.

People who had been obese as children had more than double the risk for dying before age 55, compared with those who had not been obese as children, the researchers found.

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