Obese babies show signs of heart damage by age one, finds study
Obesity could cause heart damage in babies before they even reach their first birthday, a study has found.
A study of Romanian children has shown that obese children are at a much higher risk of heart disease than others.
Researchers looked at 455 children, including 52 babies below the age of one, and found that the heart muscle in the left side of the heart was 30 per cent thicker on average in those who were obese.
The left side of the heart is responsible for pumping blood around the body.
An over-enlarged heart is a known indicator of heart disease, reports The Telegraph.
"It’s a huge problem because obesity and overweight affects children and it’s possible that this [thickening] could lead to heart failure in time," said Dr Delia Mercea, from Constantin Opris hospital in Baia Mare, Romania,
Dr Mercea lead the research, which was recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona.
She said that poor diet and a lack of exercise could spell heart disease for young children.
"Children tend to sit more in front of the TV, computer, notepad, from very early age instead of playing in the back yard or beginning a sport."
One in five Irish children is overweight or obese, according to research from the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, which is run by the HSE and UCD.
This figure represents a levelling off in the rate of childhood obesity but still indicates that it's an extensive issue.
"We are on course to become the most obese nation in Europe, unless we take action now," said Junior Minister for Health Promotions Marcella Corcoran Kennedy earlier this year.