Obesity bites in adolescence
Overweight or obese children may avoid health problems in adolescence if they are treated early enough, a study shows.
But underweight teenagers are generally healthy, research by Melbourne’s Murdoch Childrens Research Institute shows.
The study of 16,000 Australian children aged between two and 18 found that poorer overall health and special healthcare needs were linked to underweight young children, but such problems shifted to overweight and obese individuals in adolescence.
Physical health problems were largely absent in obese or overweight toddlers but started to appear from the age of six or seven, according to the study published on Wednesday in the International Journal of Obesity.
Lead researcher Professor Melissa Wake said obesity in preschoolers and young primary school children seemed to be more of a risk factor than a cause of health problems.
‘What it also highlights is this period of time between the early onset of obesity, when young children don’t really feel its full health-related effects, and adolescence, when obesity really starts to bite.
‘What that tells us is that we do have quite a number of years in which to intervene to reverse that high weight,’ Prof Wake told AAP.
She said the study showed it was important to monitor any deviation from a healthy weight at all ages.
Prof Wake said researchers were surprised to find that underweight adolescents were among the healthiest in their age group.
The best mental health was experienced by children of healthy weight and the worst by obese children, the study found.
Article source: http://www.skynews.com.au/health/article.aspx?id=765493&vId=