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Childhood Obesity Leads to Enlarged Heart

Obese children grow up to have bigger left ventricles in their hearts, putting them at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, according to a study of 467 adults under medical observation since 1970.

The doctors who conducted the study said that simply being obese means your heart has to work harder, even in childhood. The added burden of high blood pressure and other related health problems can actually contribute to a change in the structure of the heart, they reported.

While the heart enlargement can be stopped and even reversed with appropriate interventions, the data show a need to deal with weight problems sooner in children.

About 9 million U.S. children over age 6 are considered obese, according to the Institute of Medicine. The exact definition of "obesity" in children is not as clear as it is for adults. However, simple observation will give you a good clue as to whether your child is overweight or obese.

Overweight or obese children have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health problems. If you have a child who is overweight, please consult with one of our physicians so that you will have an effective plan for dealing with his or her overweight problems in a healthy way. We urge you not to delay or overlook weight problems in your children. Their future health is at stake.

Source: Circulation, November 30, 2004