Childhood Obesity and Heart Disease

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A recent study at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center shows that a higher body mass index, or BMI, is directly related to structural changes in the heart. BMI is a chart used by doctors to determine if a child is at a healthy weight. It looks at the child's height and weight and compares it to children their same age and gender.

The study found that children considered to be morbidly obese had increased thickness in their left ventricle, which is the part of the heart that pumps blood through the body and to the vital organs. This thickness could lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

Dr. Henry, a pediatric endocrinologist at Sparrow Health Systems, says that the damage is reversible if the child can reduce their weight to a healthy level and control their blood pressure. He says if the obesity continues into early adulthood, the damage will not be reversible.

Dr. Henry says kids gain weight because they are eating too many calories and are not as active as kids in previous generations. He says school lunches also play a part in the obesity epidemic. He says parents also play a big role in what foods and how many calories a child is eating.