Review

Childhood obesity: a life-long health risk

Authors: Matthias Barton
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2011.204

Abstract

Childhood obesity has become major health concern for physicians, parents, and health agencies around the world. Childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk for other diseases not only during youth but also later in life, including diabetes, arterial hypertension, coronary artery disease, and fatty liver disease. Importantly, obesity accelerates atherosclerosis progression already in children and young adults. With regard to pathophysiological changes in the vasculature, the striking similarities between physiological changes related to aging and obesity-related abnormalities are compatible with the concept that obesity causes “premature” vascular aging. This article reviews factors underlying the accelerated vascular disease development due to obesity. It also highlights the importance of recognizing childhood obesity as a disease condition and its permissive role in aggravating the development of other diseases. The importance of childhood obesity for disease susceptibility later in life, and the need for prevention and treatment are also discussed.
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