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Health and medicine

Teen fat means future heart trouble

Associated Press
Published September 22, 2005

DALLAS - Excess body fat in teens - even those who are not overweight - seems to be linked to less elastic blood vessels, a condition that can mean future cardiovascular disease, researchers say in a new study.

The findings underscore the dangers of the obesity epidemic, even in youngsters. An estimated 30 percent of schoolchildren are overweight.

"The message about this is that it's yet another reason to be concerned about the rise in overweight and obesity among young people," said Peter Whincup, lead author of the study and professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London. "One does need to avoid becoming overweight."

The relationship of fat to blood vessel elasticity is continuous, "so a few pounds will make a difference," said Whincup.

If one's blood vessels are elastic, it's easier for them to pump more blood. The heart has to work harder to pump blood through stiff blood vessels, leaving a person more likely to develop high blood pressure.

For the study published this week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, researchers used ultrasound to measure the elasticity of blood vessels in 471 children ages 13-15. There were 152 children in the study who had undergone similar evaluations when they were 9 to 11.

The study found that excess fat was even more strongly linked to stiffer blood vessels than cholesterol levels.

[Last modified September 22, 2005, 01:04:14]

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