Big kids at risk for heart disease

Being a weighty kid carries a heavy toll into adulthood. Overweight children grow up to have an elevated risk for blocked coronary arteries, a long-term Danish study reports.

“Our findings suggest that as children are becoming heavier worldwide, greater numbers of them are at risk” for heart disease, researchers from the Center for Health and Society in Copenhagen write in the Dec. 6 New England Journal of Medicine.

Drawing on government health records of 276,000 Danes born between 1930 and 1976, the team found that the older the child, the stronger the connection between excess weight and adult heart disease. In 7-year-old boys, each 2 kilograms of excess weight conferred a 6 percent increase in risk of adult heart disease. But by age 13, the same relative amount of excess weight conferred a 15 percent increase in risk. The risks were somewhat lower for girls.

Obesity-promoting habits persist into adulthood, comments David S. Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston. In addition, excess childhood weight “may elicit irreversible biological changes” in metabolism, which in turn increase heart disease risk.

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