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A study of 8-to 16-year-old youths showed that almost half of them (49.5%) exhibited some of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. This syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that increase one's likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes. Risk factors include excess body weight, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels. Of the 109 youths studied, 10% had impaired fasting glucose or glucose intolerance, both of which signal diabetes. A subset of this study group participated in a "Kids 'N Fitness" program developed by the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where they improved their body mass index, blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, and leptin levels. The 12-week program included once-a-week sessions of sports to promote aerobic activities and educational sessions for both parents and youths. Roshanak Monzavi, MD, of the Children's Hospital suggested that this lifestyle intervention "may improve metabolic outcomes in as little as 12 weeks." The full study results appear in the June 2006 issue of Pediatrics.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.