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Extra pounds are taking a toll on children's health

Increasing numbers of American children are taking medications to control their blood pressure and blood-sugar levels. Researchers say the childhood obesity epidemic is largely to blame. Childhood obesity in the United States has tripled since the 1980s, to the point where one in three children is overweight. And the extra pounds are taking a toll on children's health. A new study finds increasing numbers of kids need prescription drugs to reduce their odds of heart disease. These are medications that were used almost exclusively by adults - pills to control high blood pressure or diabetes. Researchers analyzed pharmacy records for more than 5 million children ages 6 to 18 years old. They found that children's use of blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes rose 15 percent between 2004 and 2007. The biggest increases occurred in the youngest group, ages 6 to 11. Experts say that, if untreated, children's fast-food diets, lack of exercise, and growing weight problems could mean full blown heart disease by age 30. Diet and exercise are the best ways to reduce kids' heart risk, but in some cases, children need medical intervention to lower dangerously high level blood pressure or blood sugar levels.

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