Obese Teenagers At Risk Of Developing Gallstones

A study from Kaiser Permanente, USA, found that obese and overweight teenagers and children have a risk six times higher of developing gallstones.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gallstones have long become a major health issue. It’s just one of United States’ urgent health problems, mainly boosted by a high incidence of obesity. Experts believe 20 million U.S. adults have the gallstone disease. New research finds that teenagers and children who are obese and overweight are also prone to developing the gallstone disease.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente published a new study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. The study has identified obese and overweight teenagers and children to be at a much higher risk to develop the gallstone disease as opposed to normal weight peers.

The findings come to prove that obesity makes children vulnerable to conditions that doctors commonly thought they only occured in adults. “The high rate of gallstones in obese children and adolescents may surprise pediatricians because gallstone disease is generally regarded as an adult disorder” said senior study author, George Longstreth.

Corinna Koebnick, researcher at Kaiser Permanente, explained heavy kids and teenagers that rank as modestly obese are more than four times more likely to develop the gallbladder disease. While boys face a lesser risk, for girls, the actual risk is quadruple. Overweight children and teenagers face twice the risk of normal weight peers, while extremely obese children and teenagers have a six times higher risk.

“Although gallstones are relatively common in obese adults, gallstones in children and adolescents have been historically rare” said dr. Corinna Koebnick. “These findings add to an alarming trend – youth who are obese or extremely obese are more likely to have disease we normally think of as adult conditions” she added.

“Since obesity is so common, pediatricians must learn to recognize the characteristic symptoms of gallstones” said George Longstreth. That might be a bit challenging, seeing as for the most part, patients with gallstones have no symptoms.

Only when the gallbladder gets inflamed, patients with gallbladder disease may present symptoms such as restlessness, sweating and vomiting as well as back pain and pain below the ribs. Some patients reported a shoulder pain on the right side.

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