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Weight gain in early childhood affects teenage heart health

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posted by Research Admin 1 on 7 February 2019

University of Sydney news, 6 February, 2019

Early life weight gain can set teenagers up for poor health outcomes

Obesity and cardiovascular risk factors in childhood and adolescence are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood, the leading cause of death in Australia.

Excessive weight gain in children under two years can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors in teenage years including increased cholesterol, being overweight and having fat around the middle, finds new research from the University of Sydney.

Obesity and cardiovascular risk factors in childhood and adolescence are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood, the leading cause of death in Australia.

Published today in The Journal of Pediatrics, the study tracked the Body Mass Index (BMI) of children from birth to 14 years and found that earlier onset of high BMI (in children under two years) resulted in higher cholesterol levels, higher blood pressure, and more central (unhealthy) fat in adolescence, compared with onset of high BMI in children aged three to five.

Teenage obesity is a major health problem in Australia, but the pathways to and the consequences of obesity in teenagers has not been well studied. This is the first study to look at the consequences of weight gain at two different stages of early childhood and its impact on developing cardiovascular disease as an adult.

“Our study found that there are two main pathways to obesity as a teenager – rapid weight gain in the first two years of life (early weight gain) or rapid weight gain between ages two and five years of age (later weight gain),” said senior author University of Sydney’s Professor David Celermajer, Scandrett Professor of Cardiology at Sydney Medical School and the Heart Research Institute.  

“The data shows that there are consequences of the timing of the onset of excess BMI in early childhood.

Earlier onset of a rising BMI that persisted through childhood results in greater central fat and higher cholesterol in teenagers, independent of their BMI at 14 years.” To read more about how the research was conducted, click here

 

“Earlier onset of a rising BMI that persisted through childhood results in greater central fat and higher cholesterol in teenagers, independent of their BMI at 14 years.”