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A recent study published in the journal Circulationfound that children who are obese develop an enlargement of the left ventricle, a significant risk factor for heart disease. Researchers at Tulane University used an echocardiograph to monitor the hearts of 467 adults, ages 20-38. The participants had been studied on an ongoing basis since the early 1970s. Study authors noted that when a person is obese, his or her heart must work harder, and when high blood pressure is also a factor, the actual structure of the heart can change. The study also showed a correlation between enlarged left ventricles and high blood pressure. Approximately 9 million children in this country over age 6 are considered obese, according to a recent Institute of Medicine report, which called for improvements in food labeling, school-mandated exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.