Fattening up skinny toddlers risks heart health

日期:2019-03-02 05:11:02 作者:雍门雅 阅读:

By Shaoni Bhattacharya Toddlers who are skinny at age two, and then rapidly put on weight, are up to three times more likely to develop coronary heart disease as adults than their chubbier playmates, a new study suggests. The research, led by David Barker, at Oregon Health and Science University, US, and the University of Southampton, UK, suggests that it is the rate of weight gain between the ages of two and 11 that most strongly relates to the risk of heart disease in adult life – not a child’s actual body weight at a given age. Barker pioneered the hypothesis that nutrition during conception and fetal development plays a key role in determining a person’s heart health in later life. According to the theory, malnutrition during gestation may alert the fetus’s body to the risk of future deprivation, prompting the body to compensate by overeating. “We know that low birth weight is associated with heart disease,” he says. “The next question is –does it matter how you grow one year, or two years after birth?” Barker and colleagues studied the growth histories of over 8700 people born in Finland between 1934 and 1944. “The children who are at risk of coronary heart disease are not the fat children, but those who were thin but are putting on weight rapidly,” Barker told New Scientist. In an editorial accompanying the paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, Matthew Gillman, at Harvard University, US, says: “If rapid weight gain in infancy is indeed harmful to adult health, then clinicians and public health professionals are faced with many challenges, including those of overcoming cultural stereotypes suggesting that ‘a big baby is a healthy baby’.” Gilman says the study does not resolve the role of growth between birth and two years, which previous studies have also linked to cardiovascular risk factors later in life. However, Barker says their study shows that rapid growth in the first year of life was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adulthood, even for at-risk low weight babies. “The dangerous course of growth after birth is to become thin or stay thin up until two, and then to start putting on weight rapidly,” he says. The study participants were tracked from birth and had their growth measured once a month for the first two years and then annually until age 11. Hospital admissions data revealed that 357 men, and 87 women were later treated for or died from coronary heart disease. And about 2000 of the original group were also tested for coronary risk factors such as plasma insulin levels. Small babies who were thin at age two and then rapidly put on weight were also more likely to have insulin resistance in adulthood – increasing their risk of heart disease. Their increased risk might result from putting on weight as fat rather than muscle, explains Barker. “Small babies lack muscle, a condition that continues on into childhood,” he says. “Rapid weight gain may lead to a high level of body fat in relation to muscle. This may explain why this growth pattern is related to insulin resistance and, thus, coronary heart disease.” Although lifestyle factors do also affect adults’ risk of heart disease, Barker says the evidence indicates that the pattern of early growth is crucial. Journal reference: New England Journal of Medicine (vol 353,