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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 13-19

Obesity and cardiovascular risk in children and adolescents

Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) and David Braley Cardiac, Vascular, and Stroke Research Institute (DBCVSRI), Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Manu Raj
DBCVSRI, 237 Barton Street E, Hamilton, ON
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 22276248

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The global prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents has increased substantially over the past several decades. These trends are also visible in developing economies like India. Childhood obesity impacts all the major organ systems of the body and is well known to result in significant morbidity and mortality. Obesity in childhood and adolescence is associated with established risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and accelerated atherosclerotic processes, including elevated blood pressure (BP), atherogenic dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes mellitus, cardiac structural and functional changes and obstructive sleep apnea. Probable mechanisms of obesity-related hypertension include insulin resistance, sodium retention, increased sympathetic nervous system activity, activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and altered vascular function. Adiposity promotes cardiovascular risk clustering during childhood and adolescence. Insulin resistance has a strong association with childhood obesity. A variety of proinflammatory mediators that are associated with cardiometabolic dysfunction are also known to be influenced by obesity levels. Obesity in early life promotes atherosclerotic disease in vascular structures such as the aorta and the coronary arteries. Childhood and adolescent adiposity has strong influences on the structure and function of the heart, predominantly of the left ventricle. Obesity compromises pulmonary function and increases the risk of sleep-disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea. Neglecting childhood and adolescent obesity will compromise the cardiovascular health of the pediatric population and is likely to result in a serious public health crisis in future.

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