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Heavy kids show signs of metabolic syndrome (press release)

Friday, August 04, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition

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Overweight children and adolescents often show signs of the metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes. These include, in addition to excess body weight, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels.

The good news is that diet and exercise can have a positive effect on reducing these risk factors in overweight youth, Dr. Roshanak Monzavi and colleagues at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have found.

In their study of 109 substantially overweight 8- to 16-year-olds, roughly half (49.5 percent) had multiple risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome. Ten percent had impaired fasting glucose and/or impaired glucose tolerance, precursors to full-blown diabetes.

Importantly, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics, a subset of children who completed a 12-week family-centered lifestyle intervention program saw significant improvements in body mass index, blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, and the fat-related hormone leptin.

The "Kids N Fitness" program, developed at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, consists of once-weekly 90-minute sessions. For 45 minutes, the children play dodge ball, volleyball, jump rope, and run to promote moderate to vigorous aerobic activity. While the children are exercising, parents attend education sessions focusing on the harmful effects of obesity. During the last 45 minutes, children and parents come together to learn about nutrition and healthy eating habits from a registered dietitian.

"Our study suggests that an intensive lifestyle intervention that combines nutrition education and exercise may improve metabolic outcomes in as little as 12 weeks," Monzavi and colleagues conclude.

Longer-term studies are needed to see whether these improvements can be sustained, they note.

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