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Researchers Identify New Risk Marker for Obese Children

A new study has found that, apart from being heavy, overweight children share something else in common as well.

A study of 40 overweight children in Edmonton has revealed that each one of them has high levels of apoB48, a structural protein found in intestinal cholesterol.

The children presented high levels of apoB48 even as their LDL cholesterol levels, which are characteristically high in overweight adults, remained in the normal range.

In discovering high levels of apoB48 in these children, the researchers suppose they've found a new and significant clue to better understand how some adults are more vulnerable to cardiovascular disease (CVD) than others.

"We don't consider these children to be at risk of developing CVD right now. But they have indicated apoB48 at levels that are the same as those that appear in adults who are considered at high risk; so, unless their levels decrease, they will become high risk as they age," said Dr. Spencer Proctor, a nutritional scientist at the U of A and a co-author of the study.

However, testing for apoB48 is presently uncommon, difficult and costly, Proctor said.

Proctor and his colleagues, including U of A obesity researcher Dr. Geoff Ball, believe that apoB48, which is found exclusively in a type of cholesterol produced in the intestine called chylomicrons, may be a foil for LDL cholesterol as an indicator that doctors should look for when estimating a patient's risk of developing CVD.

"We are not measuring the right things and not understanding all the processes that cause CVD," Proctor said. "This study adds to a growing body of evidence we've collected that indicates measuring apoB48 levels as a means to measure chylomicron levels may be an important piece to the puzzle in understanding just who is and who isn't at risk of CVD."

Proctor believes testing for apoB48 may become more widespread and less expensiv
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