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Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 7, 1999
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

New study finds overweight children and adolescents are at-risk for cardiovascular problems

Results of a study of overweight children and adolescents in Bogalusa, Louisiana, indicate that over half of overweight children and adolescents participating in the study had at least one additional risk factor for cardiovascular health problems.

"The Relation of Overweight to Cardiovascular Risk Factors Among Children and Adolescents: The Bogalusa Heart Study," to be published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was authored by David S. Freedman, Ph.D., William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., CDC, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity; and Sathanur R. Srinivasan, Ph.D., and Gerald S. Berenson, M.D., Tulane Center for Cardiovascular Health, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

The analysis is based upon seven studies conducted between 1973 and 1994 by the Bogalusa Heart Study in Louisiana, which included more than 9,100 5- to 17-year-olds. The study includes the following key findings:

  • Fifty-eight percent of the overweight school children, including children 5 to 10 years old, were found to have at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor.
  • Twenty percent of the overweight children and adolescents had two or more additional cardiovascular risk factors.

As compared with average weight children and adolescents, overweight youth were found to be:

  • 2.4 times more likely to have an elevated level of total cholesterol.
  • 2.4 times more likely to have elevated diastolic blood pressure.
  • 4.5 times more likely to have higher systolic blood pressure.
  • 3 times more likely to have adverse levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and 3.4 times more likely to have adverse high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
  • 7 times more likely to have elevated triglyceride levels.
  • 12.6 times more likely to have elevated fasting insulin levels.

Among U.S. children, 10-15 percent are overweight. New data in this article emphasize that childhood obesity is not simply a cosmetic problem, but one that is associated with precursors of adult diseases. The findings in this study suggest that effective prevention of adult diseases associated with obesity should start during childhood.

The abstract and full text of the article can be accessed online at


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