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Obesity Epidemic Breeds Bigger Kids, More Heart Attacks

The fallout from obesity epidemic affecting younger children: They are three to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke before they reach 65 than slimmer youngsters, according to the World Heart Federation.

The federation believes diseases previously seen only in adults are now being diagnosed in hefty children, who are likely to also be overweight or obese as adults. In fact, overweight and obese children bear near-term risks of developing type 2 diabetes, and ill health, heart attack or stroke before 65.

It's no surprise unhealthy lifestyles including high-calorie diets, dwindling exercise and hours spent in front of the television or computer have contributed to a surge in childhood obesity.

Federation representatives believe by making the link between children and heart disease and by showing how poor diet and lack of exercise in youth contribute to it, people will be shocked into doing something about it.

An estimated 10 percent of children --at least 155 million youngsters worldwide -- are overweight or obese, according to the London-based International Obesity Task Force (IOTF).

An important factor of the obesity problem is that parents don't fully realize that the habits adopted at a young age could lead to health problems in adulthood, so intervention is the key here. Setting guidelines and educating children on good nutrition through providing them with nutritious meals and snacks will put them on the road to making healthy decisions as adults.

Yahoo News September 20, 2004

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