Metabolic Syndrome Common in Obese Kids
Half of Obese Children Ages 12-14 at High Risk for Heart Disease and Diabetes as Adults
This does not mean that overweight kids who don't yet have metabolic syndrome are out of the woods.
"Children who are obese and who don't have these risk factors should not be feeling good about it, because they will have them down the road," Stevens warns. "When we hear of people dying of coronary artery disease in their 30s and 40s, we are shocked and amazed and say, 'That is too young.' But I am fearful we are going to be seeing coronary artery disease a lot earlier in these kids growing up obese."
There is, however, a window of opportunity for obese and overweight kids -- even those who already show signs of heart disease.
"There is a chance -- if people get serious about this and eat less saturated fats and exercise more and lose weight, they can reverse some of this process," Steven says.
To that end, Messiah's team is working on a plan to get overweight kids interested in strenuous exercise. If they can show it works in their clinic, she says, they'll move the program into the community.
"It is sad because these children are so young and I don't know if they have ever really known what feeling good feels like," Messiah says. "Think of the exhilarating feeling of a hard workout -- these children have never experienced that. It is hard to get people to understand that exercise makes you feel good about yourself. So much of this has to do with kids being sedentary. If we could get kids moving and feeling good about being active, things would change."
Messiah and colleagues report their findings in an early online issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.