Almost 30% of 14-year-old Australian children fall within a group identified as being at future increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes or stroke, according to results referred to in the Medical Journal of Australia.
West Australian researchers, including Professor Fiona Stanley of the Telethon Institute for Childhood Health Research, identified children at risk of future cardiovascular disease with features of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of disorders which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
"We found that 29% of children were in the high-risk category at the age of 14 years. Even at the age of eight years, 25 per cent of children were at increased risk of future obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes," Dr Rae-Chi Huang, from the University of Western Australia said.
"The magnitude of this problem - which affects up to a third of our youth - needs to be urgently addressed by governments and health planning bodies."
In the same edition of the Medical Journal of Australia
, data was presented from the three most recent national surveys in which the weight and height of Australian children was measured.
The data showed that the proportion of boys aged 7-15 years who were overweight or obese more than doubled from 11% in 1985 to 23.7% in 2007.
The proportion of girls aged 7 -15 years who were obese or overweight also more than doubled from 12.2% in 1985 to 25.8% in 2007.
"This trend is a cause for alarm, given the widely-recognised body of evidence on the significant short-term and long-term consequences of childhood obesity," co-author and Heart Foundation CEONational Dr Lyn Roberts said.
The Medical Journal of Australia
is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.