A team of healthcare providers from Kaiser Permanente looked at the electronic records of 510, 000 youth, aged 10-19, enrolled in its Southern California Children’s Health Study and found that 766 have gallstones. According to their findings, those who were overweight were twice as likely to have gallstones compared to those with healthy weight, and the risk is four times higher in moderately obese teenagers.
Gallstones are small, pebble-like substances that develop in the gallbladder. If the liquid bile, which helps the body digest fat, contains excessive amount of cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin, it can harden into gallstones. As gallstones move into the duct biles they can create blockage that will cause symptoms, such as steady pain in the right upper abdomen, pain in the back between the shoulder blades, and pain under the right shoulder. When left undiagnosed and untreated, gallstones can eventually cause severe damage or infection in the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas and can be fatal.
“These findings add to an alarming trend – youth who are obese or extremely obese are more likely to have diseases we normally think of as adult conditions,”
Meanwhile, Professor David Haslam, chairman of National Obesity Forum, said that while the link between obese teenagers and gallstone was not surprising, it’s alarming nevertheless.
“We know there is a link between the condition and obesity. But yet again we are seeing an adult illness in young people – because of obesity. We have already seen Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Now it’s gallstones,”