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Obesity in Children May Trigger Thyroid Disease
In September of 2008, the editors at Medical Only questioned a possible link between hypothyroidism and weight gain in children. This week, we will review the results of a study that explored a possible connection between obesity in children and thyroid disorders. This study discusses a potential association between obesity and thyroid damage in children, and the subsequent weight gain which can occur, which then leads to even more weight gain resulting in a "vicious cycle".
Indeed, overweight children may be damaging their thyroids, creating a vicious routine of lower metabolism and weight gain, according to Italian researchers and a release reported on Wednesday.
Obesity may cause a disorder that actually harms the thyroid, the gland which discharges hormones in order to accommodate metabolism balance and other momentous functions, according to Dr. Giorgio Radetti and colleagues, who are the with the Regional Hospital of Bolzano in Italy.
Their study involved over one hundred and fifty severely overweight children covering a period of three years, during which their thyroid hormone levels and thyroid antibodies were documented using thyroid gland ultrasound, among other testing. Dr. Radetti stated that that the study shows alterations in thyroid function frequent in children who are obese or severely overweight. Dr. Radetti continued by stating that he and his colleagues found a coalition between body mass and thyroid hormone levels, which demonstrate a link between fat surplus and thyroid production.
The researchers wrote in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that seventy-three of the children who participated in the study had aggravated-looking thyroids, but not to the point of being diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disorder in which T-cells mistakenly attack the thyroid. However, these children did indeed lack the antibodies that are linked to the disease. Dr. Radetti suggested that inflammation could have caused the antibody insufficiency in these children, rather than Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Studies of Thyroid Hormones and Obesity in Children
Researchers have concentrated on the link between thyroid hormones in childhood obesity, even to the point of some scientists suggesting that an issue with the thyroid may be accountable for some statistical cases of overweight children. This link does, however, still remain contentious and further research released from the Hospital in Bolzano, Italy may only add to the debate.
Further Evidence Released from the Study Suggests a Link Between Obesity and Thyroid Disease.
Dr. Radetti specified that the thyroid ultrasound results are unexpected, however, they do demonstrate that there is a parallel between low-grade inflammation of the thyroid and childhood obesity. The study shows that thyroid function in severely overweight children may be the unearthed link. Dr. Radetti said "We found an association between body mass index and thyroid hormone levels which suggests that fat excess may have a role in thyroid tissue modification."
Can Weight Loss Fix the Damage Caused to the Thyroid?
Even though weight loss can accompany effective thyroid hormone production in tests, Dr. Radetti stated that he was positive that the pattern of changes found by ultrasound could possibly be reversed through weight loss. However, it would require more testing and studies in order for this association to be confirmed.
What Categorizes a Child as Obese?
Obesity is defined as an excess amount of body fat. At this time, there is no specific general agreement that exists among scientists on the definition of obesity in children as in adults. The majority of professional researchers use published guidelines, which state the body mass index (BMI) for age in order to calculate obesity in children. Some scientists define obesity in children as the body weight at least 20% higher than an otherwise normal child with healthy weight for that height. In other words, obesity in children is calculated as body fat percentage above 25% in boys or above 32% in girls.
Does Excessive Weight in Children Lead to a Vicious Cycle and Low Thyroid?
Abnormally low thyroid function can be associated to weight gain, however, it is known by scientists that stimulating the thyroid does not lead to weight loss. However, weight loss has been shown to restore normal and efficient thyroid function in some people.
And because some people with low thyroid have the tendencies to have a low basal metabolic rate, an obvious result of hypothyroidism is weight gain and even the perpetuated cause of excess weight due to the difficulty to lose extra weight.
Sometimes a metabolic burn may continue to drop as calories are reduced when dieting. This is why some women with hypothyroidism or low thyroid can have weight gain even when they are maintaining a very strict calorie intake diet.
Consult a Professional
If you or loved one suspects that their child may suffer from obesity due to a thyroid disease, or suspect that their thyroid disease may be caused by obesity, it is highly recommended that they consult with a Pediatrician as soon as possible.
Note: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for professional care. This site should not be used in place of professional medical advice. The author is not a physician. For medical emergencies, call 911!
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