Childhood obesity linked to premature death in adulthood

One study led by Dr. John Harrington at Eastern Virginia Medical School and colleagues shows that half the children in the study by the age of two years became overweight and by the age of five year nearly 90 percent of them were overweight. However, this study did not reveal how the overweight or obesity in childhood affects the health outcomes in adulthood.

Another study in the Feb 11, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggests gaining too much weight in infancy to say the least may not be a good thing for a baby and being obese in childhood may raise his or her risk of premature death in adulthood.

The study led by Franks P. W. and colleagues from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Umea University Hospital in Umea, Sweden, the University of Cambridge and Mount Sinai School of medicine in New york found children who had obesity and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease were more likely than others to die prematurely.

Franks et al. followed 4857 American Indian children without diabetes at an average age of 11.3 years until they reached 55 years old to see if childhood risk factors for cardiovascular disease like obesity, glucose tolerance, blood pressure and cholesterol levels have something to do with the timing of death.

During the 23.9-year follow-up, 166 deaths from endogenous causes were recorded.  The researchers found children who had their BMI in the highest quartile were more than twice as likely as those who had the lowest BMI to die from endogenous causes. Children who were in the highest quartile of glucose intolerance were 73 percent more likely to die from endogenous causes compared to those who were in the lowest quartile.

However, no associations were observed between rates of death from endogenous or external causes and childhood cholesterol levels or systolic or diastolic blood pressure levels on a continuous scale while hypertension was associated with a 57 percent higher risk of premature death.

Franks et al. wrote that “obesity, glucose intolerance, and hypertension in childhood were strongly associated with increased rates of premature death from endogenous causes in this population. In contrast, childhood hypercholesterolemia was not a major predictor of premature death from endogenous causes.”

By David Liu

Provided by ArmMed Media