Obesity isn’t likely to cause a heart attack in children and adolescents, but it does increase the risk of those youngsters getting heart disease later on, according to the American Heart Association, which has added obesity and severe obesity to a list of conditions that increase the risk of premature heart disease in children and adolescents when they get to be young adults.
The AHA statement, published February 25 in Circulation, updates the organization’s 2006 scientific statement on cardiovascular risk reduction in high-risk pediatric patients.
Sarah D. de Ferranti is the director of preventive cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and first author of the statement. She told UPI that “just like adults, kids don’t move enough and they consume too many calories to keep the energy balanced in favor of a normal weight for height.”
She called on parents, schools, and society in general to create an environment that encourages more physical activity and less calorie consumption. “It’s very challenging for all involved and requires a lot of small changes to help families make progress on a very difficult problem,” said de Ferranti.
Lifestyle modification is recommended as the first treatment, including “improvements in dietary quality, reduction in caloric intake, optimization of moderate to vigorous physical activity, meal replacements, pharmacotherapy…,” according to the scientific statement.
But it adds that “bariatric surgery is the only treatment for severe pediatric obesity consistently associated with clinically meaningful and durable weight loss for most patients.”