Did you know that one of the most common chronic pediatric diseases is a totally preventable condition? So why does this disease affect four times as many kids today as it did 30 years ago? What is this chronic condition, which can lead to a child’s lifespan being shortened by 22 percent? Hint: It’s the same condition that’s the most common cause of elevated liver enzymes in children.
Answer: Obesity and metabolic syndrome, a set of risk factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Risk factors used to largely affect adultsChildren with metabolic syndrome have three or more of these risk factors, some of which used to mainly afflict adults:
• A large amount of belly fat
• High blood pressure
• High levels of blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides
• High blood sugar
Metabolic syndrome now affects approximately 1 in 5 kids. With childhood obesity rates quadrupling in adolescents in the last 30 years, and since children with any chronic medical condition are more likely to experience frequent doctor and hospital visits, pediatricians at Swedish Medical Center decided to bring together a panel of international experts to discuss how we can as a community put a stop to this epidemic.
Swedish to hold symposium on metabolic syndromeOn Jan 27-28, in collaboration with the Institute for Responsible Nutrition and the U.S. Healthful Food Council, Swedish will host the first-of-its-kind, two-day symposium dedicated to metabolic health. Local, regional, national and international experts in pediatric nutrition, obesity, diabetes, cardiology and gastroenterology will come together to help primary care providers better understand the connection between what a child eats and metabolic consequences that can last a lifetime.
Here are just a few of the topics that we will cover:
• Nutritional and metabolic differences between processed food, and fresh food or food made from scratch
• Common misunderstandings and food industry misinformation about sugar and health
• Environmental challenges that have a negative impact on developing healthy eating habits in children
• Health benefits of traditional, unpasteurized and fermented foods
• How did foods first recommended during the latter part of the 20th century have contributed to our current childhood obesity epidemic
Watch for more on metabolic syndromeIf you have questions about your child’s nutrition or feel that he or she faces an increased risk of obesity or metabolic syndrome, talk to your child’s medical team. You can also share this event and ask your providers if they will be attending. Doctors, nurses and dietitians will learn the latest about nutrition and metabolic health, and bring back practical tools for parents.
And stay tuned. I will be writing more about metabolic syndrome following the conference to share what I learn with parents.