Being obese is never good at any age, but for years many have considered chubby kids something to worry about later.
Now, we have some real reasons why your child's weight is something you might want to be concerned about today.
The latest research finds that obese kids, some as young as 7 years old, already show indications that heart trouble might be in their adult future, according to a study presented in June at a meeting of the Endocrine Society.
Obese kids had 10 times the normal levels of C-reactive protein, a compound associated with inflammation and linked to heart disease. They also had high levels of fibrinogen, also linked to heart disease in adults.
The kids, who were all in the top 5 percent of weight for their age, did not show other indications of potential heart problems – they were not suffering from high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
But it is worrisome, especially when you consider how big a problem obesity has become, and how many overweight adults battle coronary problems.
At the same time, don't panic. If your child is overweight, don't rush to put him or her on a diet. For most children, dieting isn't really a great idea, in part because their bodies are changing so much.
Instead, no matter how much your child weighs, take a close look at what he or she is eating. It's never too early to teach them good eating habits, and that starts with the foods you give them every day.
If you start enforcing good eating habits in your home, chances are your kids will do pretty well, and most will eventually end up weighing right around what they should once they stop growing.
That means keeping them away from the sugary snacks, sodas and candies they love. It also means staying far away from any place with a drive-through window.
It's cheaper and healthier to make good meals at home, and these meals don't have to be time-consuming to be delicious.
Stick to healthy meats, good fats and fresh veggies – and go organic if you can.
If you don't have kids – or if yours have already flown the coop – it's still a good idea to take a look at your own eating habits now and again.
Diet is one of those issues that can be a lifelong challenge for many. But if you stick with good eating habits, that life has a much better chance of being a longer one.
Food is overrated, but your child's health is not.