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Weight loss experts express concern that the obese children of today will be the adults of the future having more heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and cirrhosis. Medical problems which go hand-in-hand with obesity can independently accelerate hardening of the arteries: high cholesterol, insulin resistance, hypertension, nutrient deficiencies, sedentary lifestyle, and tobacco smoke exposure.

It’s difficult to predict future risk because children don’t develop heart attacks and strokes during their childhood years (although they do develop diabetes and fatty liver). Therefore, weight loss researchers choose to measure other things which show hardening of the arteries, but don’t show up as a heart attack yet.

However, these risk factors — these “things” that are being measured — are not well understood in how they cause hardening of the arteries. As a result, many weight loss researchers look at the blood vessels themselves. If the blood vessels of your child look all ratty and worn out and hardened like someone 20-40 years older than them … there is a problem. Tests which look at the blood vessels are more likely to provide good information for predicting whether there will be damage to the organs we seek to protect: the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, stomach, genitals, and nerves.

Obese children who change their behaviors do improve blood tests for the risk factors, but we don’t know whether they improve their blood vessels themselves and lower their chances of having heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and so forth.

“Social, cultural, legislative, and policy changes which support healthy lifestyles within families and communities” can reduce the number of obese children and reduce all the future serious heart and blood vessel problems (like heart attacks, strokes, impotence, dialysis) for the entire community. Interventions that improve the risk factors can also be a target for steps which physicians can take to hopefully reduce early heart attacks, too.

None of this article is my original research. This entire article is a special service in which I have re-worded a single medical journal article from medical language into common layman’s English. I have contacted the author of the original article who approved the content and wrote, “I am happy you are sharing this information with your patients. Geetha Raghuveer MD”
The original article may be read at:
Lifetime cardiovascular risk of childhood obesity. Raghuveer G. Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics, and the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA. graghuveer@cmh.edu