Skip to content

Children's Health

Metabolic Syndrome Common in Obese Kids

Half of Obese Children Ages 12-14 at High Risk for Heart Disease and Diabetes as Adults
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News

June 25, 2008 -- By ages 12 to 14, half of obese children have metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that predicts heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The finding, by University of Miami researcher Sarah E. Messiah, PhD, MPH, and colleagues, isn't trivial. More than 17% of children aged 8 to 14 were obese in 1999-2002, when the data were collected.

Even at ages 8 to 11, as many as 9.5% of obese children already have metabolic syndrome. That means they have at least three of these risk factors: abnormally large waist size, high blood-sugar levels, low levels of HDL "good" cholesterol, high blood fat levels, and high blood pressure.

"If a kid is age 8 with metabolic syndrome, it will take 10 years or less for that child to become a type 2 diabetic or develop heart disease," Messiah tells WebMD. "So as these kids enter adulthood, they could be faced with an entire life of chronic disease."

Obese kids aren't dropping dead in their teens, but by then, many have serious heart problems, says John K. Stevens Jr., MD, a cardiologist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Sibley Heart Center.

Stevens sees more and more teens with dangerously high blood pressure that is reshaping their hearts. He sees teens with dangerously high levels of blood fats. He sees teens with plaque streaking the walls of their arteries. And he sees teens far down the road toward type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.

"I am very fearful that in the next 10 to 20 years we will have an explosion of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease as these very young, very obese kids become 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds," Stevens tells WebMD.

The problem isn't a heart disease epidemic. It's a child obesity epidemic, Stevens says -- and Messiah's numbers lead to the same conclusion.

The analysis comes from combined data on some 1,700 children ages 8 to 14 collected from 1999 to 2002 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The main findings:

  • About 17% of boys and girls ages 8 to 11 and 12 to 14 are overweight or obese.
  • Between 6.5% and 9.5% of overweight 8- to 11-year-olds have metabolic syndrome, depending on how the data are adjusted to account for sex, age, and ethnicity.
  • Between 26.3% and 52.4% of overweight 12- to 14-year olds have metabolic syndrome.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool