Abdominal obesity in children is directly related to metabolic diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes, a new study has shown. The study was done on 10,842 children in five cities of India namely Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Raipur. It suggests cut-off values of waist circumference for screening for Metabolic Syndrome (MS) in Indian children. Anuradha Khadilkar, consultant paediatrician, Jehangir Hospital, Pune and co-author of the study said: "We found in the study that primary or essential hypertension, commonly seen in adults, is becoming common in children who are obese or overweight.
It has also developed age and sex specific reference curves for waist circumference for Indian children. This study has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Paediatrics.
"The prevalence of childhood obesity is rising in developing countries, including India. Abdominal obesity is also on the rise and is associated with increased risk for metabolic syndrome," Archana Dayal Arya, paediatric endocrinologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and co-author of the study, said here Monday.
MS in children has been defined as the presence of three or more of the criteria like high triglyceride levels in blood, low HDL or good cholesterol, increased fasting blood glucose levels and high systolic blood pressure.
MS results in increased risk for hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, the study said. "In my daily practice, I am seeing many children who are getting diseases which were earlier seen only in adults, primarily because of obesity. It is shocking to see children as young as six years with diseases like hypertension, diabetes mellitus and abnormalities in the lipid profile. In this study we found 350 children suffering from hypertension," she said.
"Therefore it is very essential for them to change their lifestyle and lose weight. They should be encouraged to participate in outdoor sports and other physical activities. They should cut down on the intake of high calorie foods with poor nutritional value (junk food) and a high fat diet," she added. The study found that 3.3 percent or 358 children out of the total 10,842 were suffering from hypertension.