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Obese girls more likely than obese boys to develop cardiovascular disease

Obese girls have 'good cholesterol' lower than in normal weight girls.

Childhood obesity could be a root cause of many health conditions in adulthood. Being a girl further increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease typical of obesity.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : May 14, 2021 9:23 AM IST

Obesity is a risk factor for a number of potentially serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Childhood obesity is linked to a higher risk of metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood. Unfortunately, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents has risen dramatically worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. As many as 38.2 million children under 5 were overweight or obese in 2019, and almost half of these lived in Asia. Now, a new study has revealed that obese girls are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood than obese boys.

According to the study findings published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, girls are more likely than boys to develop metabolic alterations typical of obesity, such as high blood pressure and dyslipidemi (excessive blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides). Obese girls showed a pattern of lipid profile alterations not seen in girls without obesity and a higher tendency to develop cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

Estefania Simoes, first author of the article, said that obese girls had higher levels of triglycerides and LDL, so-called 'bad cholesterol', while HDL, 'good cholesterol', was lower than in normal weight girls. However, the researchers found no significant differences in the lipid profile of the obese boys from that of normal-weight boys included in the study. The study included 92 adolescents from Brazil.

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Childhood obesity linked to poor cognitive performance

Another study published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has found an association between childhood obesity to poor cognitive performance in mid-30s and beyond. The research that followed about Finnish 3,600 children over three decades found that the more cardiovascular risk factors a person had from childhood to adulthood-- such as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels -- the lower they performed on memory and thinking tests.

The study findings are important for early detection and prevention, as there are currently no cures for Alzheimer's or other major causes of dementia, the study noted. "Children who have adverse cardiovascular risk factors might benefit from early intervention and lifestyle modifications," said first author Juuso Hakala, a doctoral student in preventive cardiology at the University of Turku in Finland, in a statement.

Prevention Of Childhood Obesity

Parents can help their children overcome obesity by setting an example of healthy behaviour. Here are some recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) on healthy behaviours for children:

  • Preschool-age children need about three hours a day of active play while older children should engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity.
  • To provide the calorie requirement for children, parents can include a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairies, lean meat and fish. But limit their intake of trans fats, processed meats and sweetened beverages.
  • Limit screen time for children and teens to no more than one to two hours a day.

Kids tend to copy adults. If they see you eating healthy, taking a walk or exercising, they are likely to imitate and copy these behaviours and follow till adulthood.

With inputs from agencies

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