New European research has revealed that a family history of health conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure could be key risk factors for the development of childhood obesity.
Carried out by the University of Messina, Italy, the study set out to investigate if a family history of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases could influence the onset and severity of childhood obesity.
The researchers looked at 260 overweight and obese children aged between two and 17 years old and carried out a medical assessment on each participant.
Information was also collected on the parents’, siblings’ and grandparents’ history of obesity and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The team found that — in line with previous studies — a family history of obesity increased the risk of childhood obesity.
However, the results also showed that if parents, siblings, and grandparents suffered from cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, which includes high blood pressure, high blood lipid levels, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, this also increased the likelihood of the early onset and severity of obesity in the children.
In addition, the team found that participants with severe obesity were more likely to be the youngest children, under 8 years of age, with lead author Dr. Domenico Corica commenting that, “If this obesity persists over time, these children will have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic complications in young adulthood.”
Those with severe obesity were also more likely to have a family history of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease than the other children, and also more likely to show signs of insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
“I would like to highlight that we found the most severely obese children, even those who were very young, were showing insulin resistance. This is a very important finding that underlines the need for early intervention care programs involving health providers, schools and other government institutions, primarily to modify the lifestyle — i.e., eating habits, physical activity, screen time — of obese children and their families,” added Corica.
The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.