Obesity in children may hinder doctors' ability to correctly interpret their routine blood tests, according to a study. The researchers, including those from the University of Toronto in Canada, performed the first comprehensive analysis of the effect of obesity on routine blood tests in a large community population of children.
They studied over 1,300 otherwise healthy children and teens in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada and found that 24 routine blood tests are affected by obesity, including liver function tests, inflammation markers, lipids, and iron.
The results of the study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, revealed that almost 70 per cent of the blood tests studied were affected due to the children's obesity.
According to the researchers, obesity significantly influences the levels of routinely assessed laboratory markers in the blood, "most notably liver enzymes, lipids/lipoproteins, inflammatory markers and uric acid, in children and adolescents."
"As clinical decisions are often guided by normative ranges based on a large healthy population, understanding how and which routine blood tests are affected by obesity is important to correctly interpret blood test results," said study first author Victoria Higgins from the University of Toronto.
While it is unknown whether this effect of childhood obesity reflects early disease, the researchers said, doctors should be aware of these findings when interpreting several blood tests in children.
"We hope our study results will assist pediatricians and family physicians to better assess children and adolescents with different degrees of overweight or obesity," Higgins said.