Children who are overweight by the age of nine have greater chances of developing heart disease.
By the time they are 15, they have higher blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood insulin levels than normal, which raise the chance of a premature death from heart disease.
Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said the study provided more evidence that childhood obesity should be tackled earlier, the British Medical Journal reports.
“We have left things too late for far too long. If you start early enough, you might be able to nip it in the bud. We should be assessing our children on a routine basis,” said Fry, according to the Telegraph.
The Bristol University study, led by Professor Debbie Lawlor of its School of Social and Community Medicine, surveyed more than 5,000 children aged nine to 12 whose body mass index (BMI) and other indicators of fatness were measured.
They were measured again at 15, when their blood pressure was also taken and blood samples analysed.
At the younger age, almost a quarter were either overweight or obese (18.5 percent and 4.5 percent respectively). Those who remained so at 15 had significantly higher blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels than thinner children.
However, those who thinned down tended to reduce their risk factors, with girls appearing to recover better than boys.