Overweight children are more likely to come from families with a history of obesity, new research suggests.
Youngsters whose parents or grandparents suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease are also more at risk of carrying too much weight, an Italian study has found.
For unclear reasons, younger siblings with overweight relatives are more susceptible to obesity than their older brothers or sisters, the research adds.
Although the researchers did not speculate on why obesity appears to run in families, there may be a genetic link or it could be due to lifestyle factors, such as a preference for fattening foods.
Around 27 per cent of adults in the UK are obese. One in 10 children are severely overweight by five years old and one in five by 11.
Previous research suggests obese children are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in later life.
Yet, if this excess weight is lost by adulthood, their risk of such diseases is comparable to the general population’s, which highlights the importance of tackling childhood obesity early, according to the researchers.
Overweight children likely came from families with a history of obesity (stock)
COULD WATER CONTAINING ‘GOOD BACTERIA’ COMBAT OBESITY?
A bottle of water a day that boosts youngsters’ ‘good’ bacteria may combat childhood obesity, research revealed in June 2017.
Water containing a prebiotic supplement should make obese children a healthy weight after just one year, a study found.
This compared to a 17.6lb (8kg) weight gain among children receiving a placebo, the research adds.
Study author Professor Raylene Reimer from the University of Calgary, said: ‘Powdered fiber, mixed in a water bottle, taken once a day is all we asked the children to change, and we got, what we consider, some pretty exciting results – it has been fantastic.’
The researchers asked 42 obese or overweight children aged seven to 12 years old to receive either a prebiotic, known as oligofructose-enriched inulin, or placebo once a day for 16 weeks.
The prebiotic was a white powder mixed in water.
Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients, such as fiber, that act as fertilizers to stimulate the growth of bugs in the digestive tract. Probiotics specifically introduce new bacteria into the gut.
Healthy eating, exercise and reduced screen time may combat the problem
Lead author Dr Domenico Corica, from the University of Messina, said: ‘I would like to highlight we found the most severely obese children – even those who were very young – were showing insulin resistance.
‘This is a very important finding that underlines the need for early intervention care programmes involving health providers, schools and other government institutions, primarily to modify the lifestyle, i.e. eating habits, physical activity, screen time, of obese children and their families.’
The researchers plan to repeat their study on a larger scale.
Dr Corica added: ‘We look forward to increasing the number of children and expanding the geographic area, as well as evaluating other aspects that may influence the onset and severity of childhood obesity.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 260 overweight or obese children aged between two and 17 years old.
They collected research on the children’s family histories of obesity and heart disease via interviews with their parents and assessing past medical records.
Blood samples were taken from the children to determine their cholesterol, glucose and insulin levels.
The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.
Youngsters whose parents or grandparents suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease are also more at risk of carrying too much weight (stock)