NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 11, 2005

Evidence that a woman will be in danger of developing diabetes or heart trouble may appear by the time she is only 10 or 11 years old, according to a report in Pediatrics.

The evidence is the presence of tummy fat.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati and the National Institutes of Health tracked the health of more than 1,000 black and white girls in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, from when they were 10 or 11 years old until they were 18 or 19. They found:

  • Having a larger waistline at the beginning of adolescence meant a 16 percent increase in the likelihood that by the time she was 18 or 19 a girl would be at risk of having diabetes or heart trouble.
  • An even more striking result was that girls who had larger-than-average waistlines as adolescents but trimmed down by the time they were young women were not at increased risk of the two chronic diseases.
  • Tummy fat, which the researchers called "central adiposity," turned out to be more important than having high blood pressure or abnormal levels of triglycerides, glucose or cholesterol in childhood.

Using computer modeling, the researchers concluded that a girl's chance of being in the high risk group when she's 18 or 19 is increased by 16 percent if she has a larger than average waistline when she is 10 or 11.

Source: Jeff Nesmith, "Tummy fat linked to diabetes, heart trouble: Scientists report girls' future health tied to waistline during adolescent years, with health problems increasing with age," Contra Costa Times, November 7, 2005; based upon: John A. Morrison et al., "Development of the Metabolic Syndrome in Black and White Adolescent Girls: A Longitudinal Assessment," Pediatrics, Vol. 16, No. 5, November 2005.

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