Kuwait – MENA Herald: A team of consultants from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London and University College London Institute of Child Health conducted research to see if obese children suffered from stiffer arteries when compared to children of a more ideal weight. Obesity affects 1.4 million adults around the world and is linked to multiple health issues which can lead to an earlier death. 41.4% of girls between the age of 15-18 and 60.4% of boys of the same age were classified as obese or overweight in Kuwait between 2010-2011, making obesity a growing health concern for children. The researchers decided to focus on a common feature in overweight adults – the stiffening of blood vessels – to see if this was a trait that occurred in overweight children, as predicting the future issues of children who are overweight is hard to determine. Stiffer arteries in adults are linked to problems such as strokes and coronary artery disease which can lead to an earlier death.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of published research that had used technology to measure pulse wave velocity – which determines how fast blood travels along arteries in children. The speed of blood depends on the ‘elasticity’ of arteries with less stiff arteries making blood flow slower, something which pulse wave velocity calculates. The authors compared 14 from around the world, including China, Europe and North America, and they were able to see that arteries in obese children were stiffer than those who were of a normal weight. Dr Lee Hudson, a GOSH consultant, and one of the authors of the study notes that the study showed that ‘the carotid artery (the artery supplying blood to the brain) was the most affected, which is worrying, as problems with this artery are known to be related to strokes.’

Whilst the paper used many different studies from around the world and so the data set and research were not always identical, Dr Lee Hudson concluded that ‘there was sufficient evidence to suggest that obese children have higher rates of stiffening of their arteries which provides evidence that these children are at risk right now of heart disease when they grow older.’

Helping children lead active and healthy childhoods is essential to keeping children healthy now and in the future. This research shows that children are increasing their risk as adults for conditions such as strokes, coronary artery disease, hypertension and diabetes, all of which can lead to a shortened life span.

Dr Lee Hudson is a consultant in general paediatrics at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Dr Hudson specialises in medical complications involved with eating and feeding disorders, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome and general paediatric conditions in infants, children and young people. Dr Hudson qualified from Sheffield University and undertook specialist training as a general paediatrician in Australia and the UK. He is also an executive member of the International Association of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Young People’s Health Special Interest Group.

Great Ormond Street Hospital is a world-leading research centre, conducting research into areas including rare diseases, cancer, genetics, neuroscience, immunology and surgical techniques. In partnership with University College London (UCL) Institute of Child Health (ICH) GOSH is one of the top five research institutions for children in the word. GOSH is also the site for one of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres (BRC). GOSH is the only academic Biomedical Research Centre in the UK to be dedicate to children’s health and between 2010-2014, GOSH/ICH research papers had the highest citation impact of any of the top five children’s hospitals in the world, as reported by Thomson Reuters.