Metabolic syndrome in children is on the rise. This condition, which carries a high risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, has a range of symptoms, including:
- Large waist size (over 35 inches for women, or 40 inches for men)
- High triglycerides
- High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- High blood glucose
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Low insulin sensitivity
Researchers for the Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project in Finland did a study to see if dietary counseling could help children avoid this dangerous condition. The counseling focused on getting parents to lower their toddlers’ total fat intake, and help them eat more whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. The researchers then checked up on the study participants when they were between 15 and 20 years old. Those who had the counseling were about half as likely to show signs of metabolic syndrome than those who had standard well-baby care. This study shows how important it is to have a balanced meal plan as young as possible. Young children are not protected from the health effects of poor eating habits; to keep their metabolism healthy, they should not have too much fat and processed food. So don’t wait until your child starts showing signs of metabolic syndrome. Make an appointment to see your healthcare provider to talk about healthy eating as soon as possible.