Inactivity Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Children

Photo: Boy on in-line skates

Aktivity can prevent many diseases
also in children; © wrw/Pixelio.de

Researchers wanted to know more about the early onset of metabolic syndrome, a condition more commonly found in adults. Metabolic syndrome is the label given to a clustering of medical disorders that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, such as glucose intolerance, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and obesity. Previous studies have found that somewhere from four percent to nine percent of adolescents have the condition.

However, until now, no one had tracked the same group of children over time to see just how fitness and activity levels in their early years played a role in the likelihood of them developing metabolic syndrome by the time they were teenagers, said Robert McMurray, professor of exercise and sports science in the department of exercise and sports science in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The study looked at data from almost 400 children between the ages of seven and ten from across North Carolina. Researchers measured factors such as height, body mass, percentage body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Participants were also surveyed about their physical activity and given an aerobic fitness test. When the same children were examined again seven years later, 4.6 percent had three or more characteristics of metabolic syndrome.

McMurray said adolescents with the syndrome were six times more likely to have had low aerobic fitness as children and five times more likely to have low levels of physical activity at the time they joined the study. “This shows efforts need to begin early in childhood to increase exercise,” he said. “Children today live a very sedentary life and are prone to obesity.

This is the first study to examine the importance of childhood fitness levels on your metabolism as a teenager. Previously we didn’t know if low fitness levels were an influence.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill