This new test could help doctors find cardiovascular problems in teens before they even show up.
A groundbreaking new test can help predict the risk for developing cardiovascular problems for teenagers — an important new tool in the battle against obesity.
Scientists were able to assess teens for metabolic syndrome, which refers to a group of conditions that include higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels, lots of fat in the waist area, and higher than normal cholesterol levels, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease and early healthy problems in teens, according to a UPI report. The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.
This new test, which also factors in race and gender, could help doctors predict and hopefully prevent future diseases in teenagers.
Data on 629 people were collected for the study. It involved data between 1973 and 1976 from the Cincinnati Clinic of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Lipids Research Clinic, as well as 1998 through 2003 data from the Princeton Follow-up Study and 2010 to 2014 data from the Princeton Health Update. Each study measured factors such as BMI, systolic blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and fasting glucose, according to the report.
Normally, the medical community diagnoses metabolic syndrome in such a way in that there are discrepancies between the races, with African-Americans not diagnosed at a very high rate despite being a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as CVD, said Dr. Mark DeBoer, who is a researcher in pediatrics at the University of Virginia, according to a press release.
What the study found was surprising: the metabolic severity scores for children as measured at the beginning of the study had a big correlation with cardiovascular disease and diabetes once they became adults, which would be a huge finding as it means doctors can spot these symptoms ahead of time and warn them of the path that they face ahead.
“The current study was targeted at using that metabolic syndrome severity score on data from individuals who were children in the ’70s to see if it correlated with their risk on developing CVD and type 2 diabetes later in life, and we found that there was a high correlation between the metabolic severity score for those children and for their later development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” DeBoer said. “We are hopeful that this score can be used to assess the baseline risk for adolescents regarding metabolic syndrome and their risk for future disease and use it as a motivator for individuals to try to change their risk so that they may have a healthier diet, engage in more physical activity or get medication to reduce their metabolic syndrome severity and their future risk for disease.”
Obesity in America has become a huge public health issue. Not merely being overweight, obese people are considered to have a body-mass index of 30 or higher, usually putting them in the range of more than 200 pounds for someone of average height, about 5 feet 9 inches tall. Overweight people tend to fall in the 170 to 200 pounds range, but they are not considered obese.
Science doesn’t have definitive answers for why America has such a large obesity problem, with many scientific studies coming to different conclusions, but there are a number of obvious contributing factors.
One of them is bigger portions, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting that the average American in 2000 ate 20 percent more calories compared to 1983, according to PublicHealth.org. A lot of that is due to a big boost in meat consumption, with Americans eating 195 lbs of meat annually compared to 138 lbs in the 1950s. Grain consumption also rose by 45 percent since 1970.
Much of this may be tied to the rise in fast food restaurant, which makes up about 11 percent of the diet for the average American. Then there’s the added sugars found in soda and energy drinks.
Also, Americans are becoming increasingly inactive. Most Americans don’t get the recommended amount of exercise, and they also lead a sedentary lifestyle, with many working inactive desk jobs and then coming home to sit on the couch and watch TV. This results in much fewer calories being burned, as well as cardiovascular problems due to poor blood circulation. Research suggests that Americans burn up to 140 fewer calories per day compared to 50 years ago, which means the added calories is even worse for our bodies.