A STUDY OF primary school pupils in Dublin showed that risk factors for heart disease can be found in children as young as 10 years old.
The study was undertaken by the Department of Physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin’s School of Medicine, and is published in the Irish Medical Journal. It examined the physical activity levels and incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in 102 schoolchildren in Dublin.
The study showed that over a quarter (28 per cent) of the children were overweight/obese, and despite relatively good fitness levels, activity levels were low, with less than half of the group participating in the recommended one hour a day.
There were fewer girls who reported spending less than an hour a day compared to boys undertaking physical activity. Six of the children had elevated cholesterol levels, while five had higher blood pressure values than normal.
Sixteen of the children showed “clustering” of CVD risk factors, and the risk was greater for the children who were inactive.
The researchers said that their data “suggest that in children as young as 10 years significant factors already exist”.
While 16 per cent of the boys were considered overweight and 6 per cent obese, 31 per cent of the girls were overweight and 4 per cent obese.
The researchers concluded that their findings were consistent with the literature to date, and highlight the importance of physical activity in childhood.
As CVD risk factors are known to track into adulthood, our data provides support for preventative programs aimed at children, in particular targeting young girls where participation in regular physical activity is low.