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Childhood Obesity: A Concerning Epidemic

Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, the prevalence of obesity has been increasing at alarming rates in children and associated chronic diseases that were once thought to be “adult onset” are being diagnosed more frequently in children.

In 2004, the IASO International Obesity TaskForce published an article entitled “Obesity in children and young people: a crisis in public health”. In this review, data collected between 1990 and 2002 demonstrate the dramatic prevalence of excess weight seen in youngsters across the globe. (1,figure reference) Unfortunately, these trends have only increased since 2002.

Figure: Prevalence of overweight and obese children across the globe

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century” (2).

Identifying disease-related biomarkers in this population is important for understanding the development and progression of cardiovascular disease in these youngsters. A recent study by Kelly et al. demonstrated significantly higher levels of oxLDL in overweight/obese children when compared to normal weight children, using the Mercodia OxLDL ELISA, suggesting that the early signs of atherosclerosis can be detected in children as young as 6 years of age (3). “Our findings provide evidence that body fatness and insulin resistance are associated with higher levels of oxLDL early in life. Our group and others are continuing to examine the potential value of oxLDL as a way to more accurately predict which children are most likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes”, says Dr. Aaron Kelly, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

 

References

  1. Lobstein et al. (2004) Obes Rev 5:4-85
  2. www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/
  3. Kelly et al. (2010) Pediatr Diabetes no. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5448.2009.00640.x
  4. Lobstein et al. (2004) Obes Rev 5:4-85
  5. International Obesity Task Force data, based on population weighted estimates from published and unpublished surveys, 1990–2002 (latest available) using IOTF-recommended cut-offs for overweight and obesity. [http://www.iotf.org].