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Metabolically Healthy Obesity in Kids



sharma-obesity-doctor-kidRegular readers will recall the numerous postings on the issue of healthy obesity in adults, i.e. excess weight that in otherwise apparently healthy adults.

It may not come as a complete surprise that the same phenomenon occurs in kids.

The only paper that I am aware of that has examined this issue is considerable detail was just published by Rhiannon Prince and colleagues from the University of Alberta in Diabetes Care.

The study included 181 kids (8-17 year old) referred to a pediatric obesity program in Edmonton, Alberta, for significant obesity defined as above the 85th percentile.

Participants were classified as metabolically healthy or unhealthy based on measurements of insulin resistance and cardiometabolic risk factors like (blood pressure, serum lipids, and glucose).

Based on these measures, the prevalence of metabolically healthy kids was between 20 and 30%.

The strongest independent predictor of good health was the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity – the more active the kids, the less likely they were to be metabolically unhealthy.

Other predictors included waist circumference and dietary fat intake – both of which increased the odds of being unhealthy.

Thus, this study shows that even amongst kids and adolescents with severe obesity referred to an obesity centre, as many as one in three may present without discernible cardiometabolic risk factors.

As mentioned before, it will be of great interest to know what happens to these metabolically healthy obese kids over time.

Also, as the authors rightly note, there findings can help determine for whom health services for managing pediatric obesity should be prioritized, especially in circumstances when boys and girls present with CR factors.

@DrSharma
Leipzig, Germany

ResearchBlogging.orgPrince RL, Kuk JL, Ambler KA, Dhaliwal J, & Ball GD (2014). Predictors of Metabolically Healthy Obesity in Children. Diabetes care PMID: 24574347

 

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10 Comments

  1. I think you have a typo in there. Wouldn’t the most active kids be the ones with the best metabolic health?

    Regardless, it seems to keep coming up that activity is a better predictor of health than is weight.

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  2. Dr. Sharma,

    I think there is a small typo in this blog. It says” the more active the kids, the less likely they were to be metabolically healthy” , I think the study shows the opposite.

    Best,
    Craig Primack MD

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  3. “the more active the kids, the less likely they were to be metabolically healthy.”

    Wow! More exercise, less health? Is this a typo, or am I reading it backwards?

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  4. I’m confused. Why were more active kids less likely to be healthy? That is either a typo or warrants more discussion.

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  5. the more active the kids, the less likely they were to be metabolically healthy. – is this correct or a typo? I would have expected that the more active the kids, the more likely to be metabolically healthy

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  6. The more active the kids, the LESS likely they were to be metabolically healthy?! Really? I hope that is a typo. Please, tell me that was a typo

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  7. “the more active the kids, the less likely they were to be metabolically healthy” — is this what you meant to say? Active kids are LESS metabolically healthy? That seems surprising.

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  8. Except I think you mean…the more active the kids, the less likely they were to be metabolically *unhealthy OR the more active the kids, the *more likely they were to be metabolically healthy.

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    • Wow – I certainly have the most attentive readers – thanks everyone for spotting the typo – it’s been corrected!

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  9. I’m curious as to whether they divided out the dietary fat intake into unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats?

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