What obesity does to adolescent hearts

Children who are overweight or obese are found in a new study to already have heart damage, even before symptoms appear in adulthood. The finding makes it even more important than to take measures to curb childhood obesity that is already known to adversely affect health decades later. 

New findings show teens who are obese have heart damage
Heart function abnormal in overweight, obese adolescents

The findings, presented at the Heart Failure Congress 2012, showed obese adolescents without symptoms of heart disease had thickened heart muscles in the lower chambers, or ventricles and other heart damage. 

 The study included 97 adolescents who had their weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference measured. 

The researchers divided the adolescents into 3 groups based on body mass index (BMI) – lean, overweight and obese. There were 32 participants in the lean and obese group and 33 in the overweight group.

The adolescents had echocardiograms performed that measures heart function, including how well the heart muscle pumps blood into the circulation. 

The obese group of adolescents was found to have decreased systolic velocity, which could mean impaired blood flow

The study means obesity during adolescences takes a toll on the heart even before symptoms are present. 

Lead study author, Professor Gani Bajraktari said n a press release:
"Education on healthy food and exercise is needed in schools to prevent obesity and early cardiovascular disease in adolescents." 
Childhood obesity can also be prevented by ensuring communities have green spaces for activities. The Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth (QUALITY) study found environment plays a major role in helping fight childhood obesity. 

The childhood obesity epidemic spawned new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2008, who suggested children who are overweight with metabolic risk factors for heart disease should be put on cholesterol lowering medications, which was met with some controversy.

The researchers also note more studies are needed to find out if weight loss can reverse the heart damage that comes from obesity during adolescence.

The finding adds to a growing body of evidence highlighting the health dangers of childhood obesity. The new study shows obesity takes a toll on the heart – even as early as adolescence.


“Abnormal myocardial systolic and diastolic myocardial function in obese asymptomatic adolescents”
May, 2012