Risk factors involved in the early onset and severity of childhood obesity

May 2, 2018, Frontiers

A family history of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood lipid levels, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease should all be considered high risk factors for the early onset and severity of obesity in children, reveals a new study.

The research, which assessed these risk factors together from 's parents, siblings and grandparents, also finds the youngest children to be the most severely obese. Furthermore, children suffering from severe obesity show signs of , which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. Published in open-access journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, the study hopes to increase the awareness of how strong an influence a of obesity and associated diseases can have on —one of the major public health issues worldwide.

"Our research suggests a link between childhood obesity and a family history of obesity and cardiovascular and , which includes , high , type 2 diabetes and ," says lead author Dr. Domenico Corica, based at the University of Messina, Italy.

"We also show that the problem of childhood obesity is not simply related to an increase in the number of diagnoses, but also the severity of obesity in younger children. If this obesity persists over time, these children will have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic complications in young adulthood."

For this study, more than 250 overweight and , aged between two and 17-years old, were referred by their family pediatricians to the Pediatric Endocrinology Outpatient Clinic at the University of Messina for a medical assessment. This involved measurements of height and weight, blood samples to show glucose and lipid profiles, as well as information on the parent's, sibling's and even grandparent's history of obesity and a variety of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

"These assessments were made after the first referral by their family pediatrician, which allowed us to determine if there was the presence of metabolic complications, such as insulin resistance, in an obese child at first assessment," explains Corica.

In agreement with previous studies, the researchers showed that a family history of obesity increases the risk of childhood obesity—but the extra detail of their research revealed more.

If parents, siblings and grandparents suffered cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, it increased the likelihood of the early onset and severity of obesity in the children. Splitting the children up into 3 different age ranges, the researchers also found the children under 8-years old were the most severely obese. As childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk of severe long-term health complications, this is of grave concern for the children's future health if this condition were to continue into adulthood.

Corica adds, "I would like to highlight that we found the most severely obese children, even those who were very young, were showing insulin resistance. This is a very important finding that underlines the need for early intervention care programs involving health providers, schools and other government institutions, primarily to modify the lifestyle—i.e. eating habits, physical activity, screen time—of obese children and their families."

Although the study involved many children, across a wide range of ages, the patients were all based in southern Italy, so Corica hopes to expand this research to other areas.

"We look forward to increasing the number of children and expanding the geographic area, as well as evaluating other aspects that may influence the onset and severity of childhood ," he concludes.

Explore further: Obesity can be predicted as early as 6 months of age, says study

More information: Domenico Corica et al, Does Family History of Obesity, Cardiovascular, and Metabolic Diseases Influence Onset and Severity of Childhood Obesity?, Frontiers in Endocrinology (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00187

Related Stories

Obesity can be predicted as early as 6 months of age, says study

April 1, 2016
Severe obesity can be predicted using a simple body mass index (BMI) measurement as early as 6 months of age, according to a new study. The study is believed to be the first to show that weight gain during infancy differs ...

Fathers' involvement may help prevent childhood obesity

June 21, 2017
Fathers are becoming more involved with raising children, but limited research has examined their association with childhood obesity. In a recent study, fathers' increased involvement with child caregiving was linked with ...

Two out of three very obese kids already have heart disease risk factors

July 23, 2012
Two out of three severely obese kids already have at least one risk factor for heart disease, suggests research published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Expectant mother's elevated blood pressure raises child's risk of obesity

September 27, 2017
When expectant mothers have elevated blood pressure during pregnancy, it may raise their children's risk of developing childhood obesity, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology ...

Child obesity tied to cardiovascular damage in childhood

August 15, 2013
(HealthDay)—Child obesity often is accompanied by cardiovascular abnormalities, and early detection and prevention programs are needed to avoid progressive damage at an early age, according to research published online ...

Recommended for you

Antidepressant use may contribute to long-term population weight gain

May 24, 2018
Researchers at King's College London have found that patients prescribed any of the 12 most commonly used antidepressants were 21% more likely to experience an episode of gain weight than those not taking the drugs, (after ...

Bid to beat obesity focuses on fat that keeps us warm

May 24, 2018
A new technique to study fat stores in the body could aid efforts to find treatments to tackle obesity.

Can excess weight in toddlers cause brain drain?

May 23, 2018
(HealthDay)—Extra pounds in early childhood may do more than put a child's physical health at risk—they might result in a slightly lower IQ, new research suggests.

Early-life obesity impacts children's learning and memory, study suggests

May 23, 2018
A new study by Brown University epidemiologists found that children on the threshold of obesity or overweight in the first two years of life had lower perceptual reasoning and working memory scores than lean children when ...

Some calories more harmful than others

May 15, 2018
While calories from any food have the potential to increase the risk of obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, 22 nutrition researchers agree that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems. ...

Fat cells seem to remember unhealthy diet

April 23, 2018
It only takes 24 hours for a so-called precursor fat cell to reprogram its epigenetic recipe for developing into a fat cell. This change occurs when the cell is put into contact with the fatty acid palmitate or the hormone ...

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.