This week, a Kaiser Permanente study found another unfortunate side effect for obese kids―an increased risk for gallstones. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese were shown to be at least twice as likely to experience the potentially dangerous condition than those with a normal body mass index (BMI).
The news is the worst for girls; overweight-to-obese girls were found to be between six-to-eight times more likely to develop the condition.
According to the study’s lead author, Corinna Koebnick, Ph.D, the news adds to “an alarming trend—youth who are obese or extremely obese are more likely to have diseases we normally think of as adult conditions."
Gallstones are a major health problem in the United States, with about 20 million adults affected. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the “stones” are small hard deposits, most often made of cholesterol, which obstruct the passage of bile into the intestine. This can cause severe infection or damage to the gallbladder, liver, or other organs. Severe cases, if left untreated, can result in death.
MedPageToday notes that the study is significant because gallstones in children have received little research attention, being a fairly new phenomenon.
Kaiser Permanente’s study was based on the electronic health records of over 500,000 kids ranging in age from 10 to 19. It’s part Kaiser’s ongoing research and community programs aimed at identifying and treating childhood obesity.
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