Obese Teens Feel Healthy, but Blood Tests Show Otherwise

teen obesity testsThe American Heart Association (AHA) has released the findings from its most recent Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Session. Researchers reported about a study examining the relationship between obesity and diet in teenagers, ages 11 through 19.  The study highlights that while obese teens may feel healthy, blood tests show inflammation, insulin resistance and high homocysteine levels, metabolic abnormalities that heighten heart disease risk.

Researchers compared the diets and blood test results of 33 obese teens with 19 teens of normal weight. The findings indicate that even normal weight teens are not eating properly – their diets are overall significantly low in fresh produce, fiber, and dairy products — which resulted in deficiencies in important nutrients. The obese teens, however reported consuming less dairy products and fruit than the normal weight teens.  Ashutosh Lal, M.D., senior author of the study and a pediatric hematologist at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, concludes that for obese teens, simply eating less food isn’t sufficient:  “For their heart health, obese teens need to eat better, not just eat less.”

A report today in US News reveals just how many of our youth are at risk for heart disease because of their body size. According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the level of obesity in adolescences ages 12-19 has increased significantly.  From 1988 through 1994, just 11% of this age group was classified as “obese”. From 2005 through 2008, this number increased by over 50%, when 18% of adolescents were considered obese. Furthermore, in all age groups under 12, the level of obesity has increased considerably since 1988.

You can view the American Heart Association’s news release here.

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