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Overweight, inactive children at greater risk of developing stiff arteries

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Children with poor endurance and high levels of body fat are at a significantly increased risk of having stiff arteries and atherosclerosis – a condition common to adults in which blood vessels become clogged.

In the study, principal investigator Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute, and her colleagues utilized pulse wave velocity technology to study young children who were either overweight or obese.

The research team found that children with a greater body mass index, less endurance and high levels of body fat consistently had stiffer arteries than children in better physical shape.

"When children at such a young age start getting diseases only adults used to get, it's like the sky is falling," said Davis. She also noted that testing overweight or inactive children for stiff arteries may help prevent conditions like diabetes and inflammation.

In another study, Davis investigated the effects that exercise has on a variety of childhood conditions. She found that just 20 to 40 minutes of daily aerobic exercise considerably reduced visceral fat, inflammation, body mass index and insulin levels in children between the ages of eight and 11.

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