A new study by the University of Georgia has revealed that obesity in children can lead to major cardiovascular problems. Published in the ‘Paediatric Obesity Journal’, the study found that high levels of fat in the body causes the cardiovascular system to work extra hard to pump blood. This causes arterial stiffness in overweight children, which makes the blood pass through veins very rapidly. This results in over exhaustion of the blood vessels.

Joseph Kindler, assistant professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and corresponding author of the study, shed light on the domino effect that occurs due to obesity. As one system of the body overworks, other bodily systems also begin to do so. Researchers and doctors believe that cardiovascular problems begin during childhood and it is only much later that signs of disease show.

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The fat levels in children were assessed by a technology known as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA. Commonly used in hormonal and bone research, the new technology is fast, less expensive and has less doses of radiation unlike conventional radiation technologies. The technology also measured the amount of time it took for blood to move to the lower limbs of the body. This helped in assessing arterial stiffness.

Kindler added that diseases that occur in children could have an accelerated rate of ill-effects on the body. These effects are  of far greater concern in the earlier years compared to the older ages. Another uncommon disease in children is Type 2 diabetes. Earlier, this type of diabetes was only observed in adults. Obesity has heightened risk factors of kidney, brain, bone and liver diseases in children.

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Obesity continues to be one of the biggest health threats for children and young adults around the world. Major reasons for obesity include sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activities or exercise, and consumption of adulterated junk food and other dietary habits.