A new study has revealed that children suffering from severe obesity may be at a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Lead researcher Asheley Cockrell of the University Of North Carolina Health Care said that their findings showed a direct correlation between higher levels of obesity and adverse cardiometabolic risk factors that could lead to future disease.
Cockrell said that understanding elevated risk of disease in children and adolescents with more severe obesity was important.
In the study, researchers analysed data of obese children, ages 3 to 19, assessing the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol and blood sugar.
The more severe forms of obesity were defined as a body-mass index (BMI) greater than 120 percent of the 95th percentile (class II) and greater than 140 percent of the 95th percentile (class III).
Among 8,579 children with a BMI at the 85th percentile or higher, 46.9 percent were classified as overweight, 36.4 percent had Class I obesity, 11.9 percent had Class II obesity, and 4.8 percent had Class III obesity.
The study showed that the greater the severity of obesity, the higher the risks of a low HDL cholesterol level, high systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and high triglycerides and hemoglobin levels, which were all markers for heart disease and diabetes.
Co-author Eliana Perrin said that people should be looking at prevention and intervention strategies to help reduce obesity early in life, particularly in those children most at risk, not waiting until the risk factors lead to disease.
The study is published in the Journal New England Journal of Medicine.