Experts did not find the results surprising, but they did view it as "alarming."
The arteries of many obese children and teenagers are as thick and stiff as those of 45-year-olds, a sign that such children could have severe cardiovascular disease at a much younger age than their parents unless their condition is reversed, researchers said Tuesday.
"It's possible that they will have heart disease in their 20s and 30s," said Dr. Geetha Raghuveer of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, who led the study presented at a New Orleans meeting of the American Heart Association. "There's a saying that 'you're as old as your arteries,' meaning that the state of your arteries is more important than your actual age in the evolution of heart disease and stroke," she said. "We found that the state of the arteries of these children is more typical of a 45-year-old than of someone their own age."
"This is another in a long line of studies illustrating the domino effect of childhood obesity," says momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. "A health crisis affects a third of all children -- half of whom are obese and half of whom are overweight and risk becoming obese. The crisis will not end with their childhood. Diseases like diabetes and atherosclerosis will follow them into young adulthood, creating new health hurdles for them and placing increasing stress on an already over-burdened health system for all."