High blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, low HDL, and/or increased waist size are all important heart disease risk factors, typically associated with middle age. Get ready for your jaw to drop. About 2/3 of U.S. teens already have at least one of these risk factors, according to research at Children.s Hospital Boston published in the October 19, 2004 Circulation.
Almost 2,000 children aged 12 to 19 were evaluated. About 1 in 10 of them had three or more of these dangerous risk factors, enough to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (also called insulin resistance syndrome). When kids (or adults) develop insulin resistance syndrome, their bodies find it easier to store calories than to burn them: the fat get fatter. Those with metabolic syndrome are at very high risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and unhealthy arteries. Stunningly, about 1 in 3 overweight or obese kids age 12 to 19 already have metabolic syndrome.
Not only is it harder for them to exercise, it’s harder for them to lose weight even if they do. It’s far better and easier to prevent insulin resistance than to treat it, but those kids who have already developed metabolic syndrome deserve enthusiastic help today. Without significant help, the downward spiral will only worsen with time. If your child is overweight or obese, or you suspect your child may have metabolic syndrome, ask your doctor now to help your family do whatever it takes to reverse the problem before it gets even worse.