Encouraging a healthy weight for a healthy heart

October 27, 2013

A healthy weight is the key to a healthy heart, and yet an estimated 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the U.S. During a special symposium Oct. 27 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, pediatricians discussed obesity and cardiovascular risk factors, public health policy, and how physicians can partner with families to improve children's weight.

"Overweight are more likely to become overweight adults," said Stephen Daniels, MD, FAAP, who will speak about cardiovascular health during the symposium, "Heavy Challenges for Healthy Hearts."

Obesity in childhood and adulthood is associated with many health risks, including Type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, high , lipid abnormalities and high . Left untreated, these conditions can lead to heart disease and other chronic health conditions, Dr. Daniels said. The AAP has endorsed guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute which recommend all children undergo cholesterol screening once between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21.

The guidelines are based on research showing that early atherosclerosis exists in young patients with elevated cholesterol. In addition, lipid disorders are common in children and linked to childhood . The testing is helping pediatricians to monitor and intervene to minimize the effects of weight and an unhealthy lifestyle on overall health.

"If you have a child with obesity, you should know what his or her blood pressure and cholesterol levels are," said Dr. Daniels, a cardiologist and chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. "If you ask why there are so many kids who are overweight and obese, it has to do with behaviors and how our environment influences these behaviors. We have more attractive, high-calorie drinks and foods, and lots of things that keep kids from being active. How do we change the environment or how do we improve behaviors in spite of our environment?"

Stephen Pont, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Section on Obesity, urged pediatricians to partner with overweight and obese children to improve their eating, lifestyle and overall habits.

"We must create a safe, guilt-free environment for our patients, if we are going to be most effective in empowering our patients to make healthy changes," Dr. Pont said. "Placing more guilt and blame on our patients and their families only makes them feel worse, it doesn't help their motivation. There are big forces at work that make being healthy difficult for many of our patients, and so if we are to best empower our we must take an empathetic, patient-centered approach, which is most effective in dealing with weight and other sensitive issues."

Explore further: Childhood obesity may quadruple high blood pressure risk in adulthood

Related Stories

Childhood obesity may quadruple high blood pressure risk in adulthood

September 12, 2013
Obese children quadruple their risk and overweight children double their risk of developing high blood pressure in adulthood, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Scientific ...

Overweight and obese children face high risk of hypertension

October 10, 2013
High body weight in children and adolescents is strongly associated with the likelihood of hypertension, according to a Kaiser Permanente Southern California study published today in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

High blood pressure reading in kids linked to triple risk for condition as adults

September 12, 2013
Children with one or more high blood pressure readings were about three times more likely to develop the condition as adults, in a study presented at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Scientific ...

Bioethicist discusses targeting parents of obese children

September 23, 2013
(HealthDay)—Parents of obese children should be targeted in an effort to deal with a serious national problem, according to a viewpoint piece published in the September issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Study suggests focus on lifestyle changes—not weight loss—is key to kids' health

August 22, 2013
A UCLA School of Nursing study has found that both healthy-weight and obese children who participated in an intensive lifestyle modification program significantly improved their metabolic and cardiovascular health despite ...

Five percent of US children, teens classified as 'severely obese'

September 9, 2013
About 5 percent of U.S. children and teens are "severely obese"—a newly defined class of risk, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement published online in the journal Circulation.

Recommended for you

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.