Childhood Obesity May Lead to Early Death

Filed under: In The News


Overweight children could be headed for early graves.

USA Today reports extra pounds put them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other conditions that could give them life expectancies two to five years shorter than their parents.

About 32 percent of American kids are obese or overweight, according to government statistics. First lady Michelle Obama just announced she is spearheading a national campaign to address the problem.

Meanwhile, the New England Journal of Medicine reports today that the heaviest kids (in the top 25 percent of the overweight youth population) are more likely to die early from natural causes such as alcoholic liver disease, cardiovascular disease, infections, cancer and diabetes than kids at the skinniest end of the spectrum.
Alcoholic liver disease can be caused by a combination of alcohol consumption, obesity (associated with fatty liver disease) and other liver toxins or viruses, researcher William Knowler of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, tells USA Today.

"Obesity in children can be a serious, life-long problem," Knowler tells the newspaper. If doctors tell parents to do something about their child's obesity, he adds, "they should take it very seriously."

The study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine is based on a study started by researchers at the National Institutes of Health in 1965. Over the years, researchers tracked 4,857 Native American children in Arizona.

Researchers reported 166 deaths from disease among the group over the next 24 years. The death rate was 73 percent higher among the overweight population, according to the medical journal.

"Despite recent increases in life expectancy, the rising global prevalence of obesity may reverse this trend," researchers concluded in the journal.

Related: Fighting Childhood Obesity

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.