News

Childhood obesity a major health problem


21 February 2005

New research to be published soon by a University of Sydney medical team, shows that childhood obesity is a serious health problem in Australia.

Professor Michael Booth, co-director of the University of Sydney's Centre for Overweight and Obesity, said teenagers were already showing signs of serious illness caused by their weight.

Dr Booth and his colleagues are conducting a study of 15-year-olds, and preliminary results show an alarming number of health problems previously only detected in adults.

"We've collected blood samples from 500 15-year-olds to look at health markers like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, triglycerides, insulin levels, glucose levels and something called c-reactive protein, which is an indicator of vascular damage, and liver enzymes which give an indication of liver cell damage associated with weight.

"We still have to make some adjustments, but overall we've found they are all frighteningly high.

"A proportion of 15-year- olds are already showing significant signs of organ damage associated with being overweight." Dr Booth said the increasing level of Type 2 diabetes would result in many children developing potentially deadly diseases by the age of 30 or 40.

"For kids with signs of insulin resistance, if they don't improve their health by their 30s they will be suffering all the morbidities that people used to suffer in their 60s, such as amputations, blindness, liver failure, kidney failure and heart disease," Dr Booth said.

"For others, by the time they reach their 30s and early 40s there will be lines wrapping around the block in front of hospitals of people needing to have liver transplants. I really don't think the magnitude of the problem has settled into the minds of government yet."

Dr Booth's results will be presented to the NSW Government later this year.

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