Doctors have long been concerned about obese children but now it turns out obesity may be even more dangerous than we thought.
A new study presented at the American Medical Association's scientific session this year shows obese children can have arteries that look like those of someone much older.
The findings were a surprise even to some doctors.
They may be kids on the outside, but doctors say take a closer look inside, and its a much different picture.
The arteries of obese children often look more like those of a 45 year old. Doctor Kevin Niswender of Vanderbilt University has looked at the study
"To see this degree of what is called athroscorosis or blood vessel disease in what's essentially 13 year old kids is very surprising," said Dr. Kevin Niswender.
In the new study cardiologists at the University of Missouri at Kansas City used ultrasound to look at the neck arteries of 70 obese children with an average age of 13.
They found most already had the fatty buildup of plaque associated with heart attack or stroke.
The kids also had abnormal levels of one or more types of cholesterol and an overall "vascular age" some 30 years older than they were putting them at high risk for future heart disease.
So what can children and their parents do?
Doctors can prescribe medications to help but most think an old fashioned solution a healthier diet and increased exercise may be the best medicine of all
"These two things can have a huge impact on the progression of these blood lipid problems and on the progression of this disease in the cholesterol wall," said Niswender.