Scientists have discovered a risk factor for heart disease that can be identified as early as the age of seven.
The study focused on 'body mass index (BMI) rebound age', which refers to the age at which the index hits its lowest point. This usually occurs between the ages of four and seven.
BMI increases steadily through late childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Researchers studied BMI rebound age and adverse cardiovascular risk effects at age seven in a group of 308 children.
The study found direct correlation between a low BMI rebound age and higher BMI, higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, higher serum insulin and leptin levels, higher left ventricular mass and left atrial size at the age of seven - all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Lead author Dr Thomas Kimball said: "These problems of overweight and cardiac risk factors begin at an early age, not just in teenage or adult years. As a physician and parent, I'd rather deal with these issues before the habits are set.
"The crux of the matter is when these habits are set in childhood, they are difficult to break. It's not just the child's problem, but becomes a family issue."
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