Metabolic effects of obesity causing disease in childhood

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Purpose of reviewChildhood obesity is rising to epidemic proportions throughout the world, and much emphasis has been placed on the long-term consequences that can result later, in adulthood. This article reviews the metabolic consequences of obesity that can manifest as disease during the childhood years.Recent findingsObese children suffer from many disease processes once thought to affect only adults. They can have type 2 diabetes mellitus, and potentially early β cell failure with rapid progression to an insulin requirement. There is a high prevalence of fatty liver disease in obese children, and complications such as steatohepatitis and even cirrhosis can develop during childhood. Visceral fat has been shown to have many different properties than subcutaneous fat, and children with central adiposity can develop the metabolic syndrome with insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. Hyperandrogenism, sleep disturbances, and many types of orthopedic complications can also develop in young children.SummaryPhysicians should not only warn obese children and their families about the long-term consequences of obesity for which they are at risk in adulthood, they should also screen for the many diseases that may already be present.

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