Hardening of the arteries, due to build-up of cholesterol plaques, has been linked to obesity - and now new research shows that this problem is even more pronounced in children who also have type 2 diabetes.
"Because this damage is progressive and has started so early, this may be the first generation that has a shorter life expectancy than their parents," lead author Dr Elaine Urbina, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Ohio, commented in a prepared statement.
As reported in the journal Circulation (9 June 2009), the research team used ultrasound to examine cholesterol plaques in the carotid arteries, large arteries in the neck that carry oxygen-rich blood to the brain, of 446 subjects between 10 and 24 years of age. Using standard criteria, 182 of the subjects were classified as lean, 136 as obese but without diabetes, and 128 as obese and diabetic.
Subjects with obesity, but not diabetes had greater plaque build-up than did lean subjects. Subjects with both obesity and diabetes, however, had the worst build-up. Statistical analysis suggested that both obesity and diabetes are risk factors for plaque build-up.
The results indicate that doctors need to act early to address obesity and other factors that may have a strong impact on the future risk of heart attack and stroke in their young patients, the researchers conclude.
(Reuters Health, May 2009)