Our Worst Fears Are Coming True. America’s Children Are Dying.

Our worst fears have finally come true. Overweight teens are dying from heart disease. Pediatricians have long feared that the rising number of severely obese children and teens would soon start to suffer from adult complications of obesity, like heart attacks, strokes, and death. And now it is happening.

According to the St. Louis County medical examiner, a 13-year old football player who collapsed during football practice died as a direct result of “hypertensive cardiovascular disease”, also known as high blood pressure. This young man, Anthony Troupe Jr. died last August but the results of his autopsy were just released this Wednesday. The cause of death was hypertensive heart disease, which is known to be caused by obesity. Young Anthony was 6-foot-2 and weighed 383 pounds.

Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to those of us in the child obesity specialty. In fact, a study published in the British Medical Journal and reviewed in the New York Times earlier this year found that obese teens were twice as likely to die by age 60 as non-obese, non-smoking teens. But it is one thing to think of somebody dying at age 60 and quite another to think of a child dying at age 13. It is just so sad.

Other studies have found similar results. A Harvard study followed teens over 50 years and found that obese boys were twice as likely to die from heart disease as normal-weight boys. In fact, they learned that obesity that starts in childhood or adolescence causes a greater risk of early death than obesity that starts in adulthood

It is clear that heart disease starts at a very young age. As parents, we must protect our children from the deadly effects of obesity. Many look at obesity as an aesthetic issue. It is not. It is a disease. A disease that can kill. And we must treat it that way.

I urge any reader with an overweight or obese child at home to get help before it is too late. Children must work with physicians when starting a weight loss program. So call your pediatrician and get a referral for a child weight loss specialist. Do not wait.

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