Childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease

Recent studies indicate that childhood obesity prevail more chronic disease complications than originally thought.

“Severe obesity in the adolescent age group is associated with numerous cardiovascular risk factors that were previously thought to only affect adults,” said Dr. Marc Michalsky, associate professor of clinical surgery and pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine, in Columbus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the percentage of overweight children is rapidly growing. From 1980-2012 the percentage of children identified as overweight increased from five to 20 percent nationwide. With overweight children suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol and skeletal problems, the rate of cardiovascular disease among youth between ages 12-17 has greatly increased. Early treatment for childhood obesity can help control the risk factors for heart disease. Aaron Kelly, professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School said, “Health risks grow along with excess weight.” Kelley also added that some teens may need intensive treatment to reduce the chance of early heart disease. The CDC cites long-term health risks associated with childhood obesity. Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to be obese as adults, increasing their risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and experiencing chronic pain.

Focusing on obesity prevention among children is critical to help promote longevity and positive quality of life as youth enter into adulthood. Michigan State University Extension recommends considering the following strategies for preventing childhood obesity:

  • Help children develop healthy eating and exercise habits at an early age. Prepare healthy meals with your children and plan fun outings such as hiking, bike riding, swimming, cross-country skiing, etc.
  • As a caregiver, be a role model for children. Show children how much you enjoy healthy meals and a workout routine.
  • Consider how your local schools and communities work together to assure safe and healthy activities for children. Parents and caregivers should take an active part in their community and be a voice for children’s health

For more tips on health and nutrition visit MSU Extension at

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