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Childhood Tummy Fat Predicts Diabetes And Heart Trouble for Girls
Posted: Monday, November 21, 2005
Evidence that a woman will be in danger of developing diabetes or heart trouble may appear by the time she is only ten or 11 years old. The evidence is the presence of tummy fat.
The researchers tracked the health of over 1,000 black and white girls in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., from when they were ten or 11 years old until they were 18 or 19.
Tummy fat, which the researchers called "central adiposity," turned out to be more important than having high blood pressure or abnormal levels of triglycerides, glucose or cholesterol in childhood, the researchers from the University of Cincinnati and the National Institutes of Health reported.
"Early recognition of central adiposity is critical," the researchers concluded. There are no similar studies of adolescent fat in boys and the later risk of having heart disease or diabetes. "This study shows that the time to keep a woman from having diabetes or heart trouble is during childhood," said Eva Obarzanek, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Health surveys indicate America faces a public health crisis because of obesity, which has more than tripled among youths between six and 11 years old.
NHLBI is organizing a nationwide collaboration among local parks and recreation agencies, health departments and other groups to surround adolescents with influences pushing them toward healthier food and more physical activity. More than 40 local governments have signed up for the program, known as "We Can!" (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition),
The research being reported Monday was focused on a condition experts in heart disease and diabetes call "metabolic syndrome." Population surveys indicate that one in five adult Americans have the syndrome, which is used to alert physicians that their patients face an increased risk of having one or both of the diseases.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as having any three of the following five conditions:
- A waistline of at least 40 inches in men or 34 inches in women.
- A serum triglyceride level of at least 150 milligrams per deciliter, meaning that every one-tenth of a liter of a person's blood will contain a total of 150 milligrams of triglycerides.
- A high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ("good cholesterol") level of 40 milligrams per deciliter or less in men and 50 or less in women.
- Blood pressure of at least 130 over 80.
- Glucose level of 110 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
The researchers measured these factors in slightly over 1,000 girls who were ten or 11 years old and then checked them again when they were 18 and 19.
Only one white girl and one black girl had three of the five factors, meaning they both had metabolic syndrome during the pre-adolescent examinations, according to the Pediatrics article.
But in the follow-up measurements when they were young women, 3.5 percent of 570 black girls and 2.4 percent of 500 white girls were considered to have metabolic syndrome.
"These young women are right on the path to developing cardiovascular disease or diabetes in later years," Obarzanek said.
Using complicated computer modeling, the researchers concluded that a girl's chance of being in the high risk group when she's 18 or 19 is increased by 16 percent if she has a larger than average waistline when she is 10 or 11
"Taking action (against obesity) in adolescence could provide major health benefits," the researchers said.
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