Children showing heart risk factors
Irish children as young as 10 years old are showing significant risk factors for heart disease, according to new research.
The problem is worst among schoolchildren who are physically inactive, the research published in the Irish Medical Journal shows.
Of 102 Dublin 10-12 year olds who participated in the survey, six (three boys and three girls) had higher than normal cholesterol levels. Five boys had higher than normal blood pressure.
The group, all urban children, participated in an average of about 55 minutes of physical activity per day, not far off the recommended international average of one hour. However, this masked wide variations between individual children, with less than half getting the one hour of exercise recommended each day.
While 63 per cent of boys were getting the required amount of daily exercise, only 28 per cent of girls were.
The incidence of being overweight or obese for the group as a whole was 28 per cent, but the problem was worse among girls. Over one-third of girls (35 per cent) were obese or overweight, compared to 22 per cent of boys.
The researchers from Tallaght Hospital and the department of physiotherapy in Trinity College Dublin found a clustering of risk factors for heart disease among those children who were least physically active.
Virtually all children with multiple risk factors had lower than recommended physical activity levels.