Being overweight speeds the aging process in children, according to a study from the University of Houston in Texas. Because obesity is linked to accelerated biological ageing and suppressed immunity, the researchers investigated how this affects being overweight even in children. Body weights were compared to immune markers in the blood of 123 adolescents aged 10- to 14-years-old. Results showed that overweight or obese children had significantly lower levels of immune cells, such as T lymphocytes, compared to lean children. Immune cells of the overweight children also resembled those of older adults. The researchers conclude that being overweight even in adolescence accelerates the aging process, at least as it related to immunity, thus predisposing children to an increased risk of immune-related diseases in adulthood.
Spielmann G, Johnston C, O’Connor D, et al. Excess body mass is associated with T cell differentiation indicative of immune ageing in children. Clinical and Experimental Immunology 2014;176:246-254.