Monday, August 08, 2005

The Future is Now

Many months ago researchers took it on the chin when they suggested that children today will will suffer greater incidence of disease and possibly die five years sooner in adulthood than previous generations.

The idea was simply too horrifying to consider. Who can say, in all honesty, they really want to even think it is possible that our children may not live long and healthy lives?

Consider this - research published in the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine this month looked at the waist-circumference of 84-children (40 boys and 44 girls), aged six to thirteen and found that:
  • Only 16 of the children were of normal weight (19%)
  • 28 children were overweight (33%)
  • 40 children were already obese (47%)
  • Overweight-obese children accounted for 70% of the children surveyed

More disturbing was the incidence of Metabolic Syndrome and other disorders in those children with the largest waist measures when compared with:

  • Height
  • BMI
  • Systolic BP
  • Diastolic BP
  • High-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol level
  • Triglyceride level
  • Proinsulin level

Waist circumference [WC] and systolic BP were significant independent predictors for insulin resistance.

Multiple linear regression analysis using HOMA-IR as the dependent variable showed that WC and systolic BP were significant independent predictors for insulin resistance adjusted for diastolic BP, height, BMI, acanthosis nigricans, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level.

The researchers concluded that [w]aist circumference is a predictor of insulin resistance syndrome in children and adolescents and could be included in clinical practice as a simple tool to help identify children at risk.

If findings like this do not set off alarm bells for parents, I'm not sure what will. I do know that results like these speak volumes that something is very wrong when 70% of the children surveyed are already overweight or obese with a good number of them already presenting Metabolic Syndrome and/or insulin resistance.

As my headline says, the future is now and if we do nothing to reverse this trend of childhood obesity, I fear the researchers who predicted our children will die younger will may be right - and sadly their estimates of living five years less than our current life expectancy estimates may be too conservative.

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