MONDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- As the childhood obesity epidemic continues in the United States, more kids are developing an array of heart risk factors linked to obesity known as the "metabolic syndrome."

Now, a study suggests that these obesity-linked changes may be affecting kids' minds as well as their bodies.

The new study finds that adolescents with these conditions -- which include abdominal obesity, unhealthy cholesterol/trigylceride levels and high blood pressure -- are more likely to perform more poorly on tests of mental ability compared to their healthy peers.

MRI scans also showed certain worrisome differences in brain structure among children with the metabolic syndrome, the researchers said.

According to study lead author Dr. Antonio Convit, until recently it's been thought that "the bad things that can happen among kids with metabolic syndrome are 20 years in the future. But, this work demonstrates that these health issues are having a deleterious impact on a kid's brain now. Today."

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