Purpose/Background: Approximately 14.7 million children or 20% of all children and adolescents aged 2- 19, currently meet the criteria for childhood obesity in the United States. It is well known that the rate of obesity among children and adolescents is steadily increasing. Cardiovascular disease, a major risk of childhood obesity, has been designated as the number one cause of death in the United States, with 659,000 deaths occurring every year. The purpose of this project is to conduct a systematic review of the literature to determine what is currently understood about the relationship between childhood obesity and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood.
Methods: A critical appraisal and systematic review of the literature was completed. A comprehensive search of the literature was conducted using the Google Scholar search engine online using the following key words: BMI, childhood, obesity, adult, & cardiovascular disease. The inclusion criteria included the following (a) full text primary studies that were published in peer reviewed journals between 2017-2022; (b) written in the English language; and (c) focus on children (ages 5-18) diagnosed with childhood obesity. Exclusion criteria included: (a) any studies published before 2017; (b) secondary source articles including all systematic reviews, meta-analyses, studies not published in English, and children with other serious pre- existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Results: Common themes found among the studies included: BMI trajectories, genetics, hypertension, and benefits of reversing obesity. There is a positive correlation between childhood obesity and the development of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. There was a positive correlation found between childhood obesity and the development of type II diabetes. However, the trajectory studies showed the longer someone remains obese, the more likely they will be to develop these disease processes. So, if they can reverse their obesity status as soon as possible, the less likely they are to develop diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Genetics was also found to play a role in the development of childhood obesity.
Conclusions: Childhood obesity is proven to be connected to cardiovascular disease in adulthood. As healthcare providers, this project helps to reinforce the importance of preventative healthcare, especially with weight management.