An 8-Year-Old’s Abdominal Fat and Muscle Weakness are Revealed by a New Study

Sarcopenia, the dangerous confluence of decreased muscular strength and abdominal fat, is already prevalent in elementary school students. A recent study carried out at Karolinska Institutet with eight-year-olds demonstrates this.

“Our findings show that sarcopenic obesity, which we have previously seen mostly in adults, is now also found in children of primary school age. This is a very worrying development and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease later in life,” Mai-Lis Hellénius, a professor at the Department of Medicine in Solna, stated in a news release from the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation that “this is a very worrying development and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease later in life.”

One of the biggest threats to public health worldwide, according to the WHO, is childhood obesity. The Public Health Agency of Sweden reports that approximately one in five middle and high school-aged youngsters there are overweight or obese, highlighting another concern for the country.

In Sweden, the percentage of children aged 11 to 15 who are overweight or obese has increased fourfold in the last thirty years. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, and dyslipidemia can all be made more likely by abdominal fat. Over an extended period, obesity around the abdomen may also raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, common malignancies, and cognitive impairments.

The negative effects of having weak muscles and belly fat combined—a condition known as sarcopenic obesity that has been identified in adults. However, the latest research, which is a component of the “En frisk generation” intervention program, reveals that youngsters as young as eight years old already have the issue.

Published in Acta Paediatrica, the study “Negative associations between step-up height and waist circumference in eight-year-old children and their parents”

Since its inception in 2011, the initiative has assisted families in underprivileged communities in leading healthier lives. Prior studies conducted as part of the program have demonstrated a definite impact, including enhanced integration, higher levels of physical activity, and greater quality of life.

Alarming Outcomes

Gisela Nyberg from the Department of Global Public Health is part of Mai-Lis Hellénius’ research team, which examined the connection between muscle strength and abdominal obesity in the current study. There were 67 families with parents and children in the group who were eight years old.

According to the study’s findings, 4 out of 30 girls and 13 out of 37 boys were abdominally obese, which is defined as having a waist measurement of 66 cm or more in children under the age of eight. A strong association was found when looking at the individuals’ leg muscle strength: the lower the muscle strength, the greater the waist circumference and the degree of abdominal obesity.

It was also discovered that there was a correlation between the parents’ and the kids’ muscle strength—if the parents had weak leg muscles, the kids had poor ones, too.

“When I saw the results, my jaw dropped. Some of the children were so weak that they had difficulty getting up from a chair. It is very alarming that we can see this already in eight-year-olds and it is our duty as adults to act. Reversing the trend requires vigorous action in the form of physical activity and healthier eating habits,” according to Mai-Lis Hellénius.