ORLANDO (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- You have probably heard about the dangers of belly fat in adults. Extra weight around the waist has been linked to an increase in heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Until now, there have been few studies to determine if the same weight distribution could point to similar health problems in kids.
Ten-year old India Foster loves dance of all kinds, but her favorite is tap.
"I like how I get to wear the shoes that make all the noise," India says.
For mom, Diane, the exercise is a plus. India's battle with brain cancer left her with hypothalamic obesity.
"In a short matter of time, she gained 60-65 pounds."
Diane worries about India's risk of Type 2 diabetes. Even India's niece may be affected someday.
Angela Fals, a pediatrician at Florida Hospital for Children says, "Type 2 diabetes is at a point now where we are actually not expected to see our children have the same life expectancy we did."
Dr. Fals and researcher Lindy Moore are studying a non-invasive way to accurately predict a child's diabetes risk.
Dr. Fals says, "It really requires a tape measure, and a very patient child."
In adults, doctors use waist size as an indicator of health. So-called "apple-shaped" bodies may be at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes than those with "pear shapes" or fat on their hips.
Could the same be said for kids?
In a study of 745 children ages 6 to 17, Dr.'s Fals and Moore measured waist to hip ratio and compared blood work and found the tape measure method could be an accurate way to also see if kids were at risk.
Exercise Physiology Manager Lindy Moore says, "We were starting to see this correlation that was following in line with what exists for adults."
For the Fosters, it is important to keep a close eye on all of India's numbers including her waist size.
"Weight loss is our essential goal, but just to keep her healthy. Keep her on the right track," says Diane.
Researchers say they calculate the waist to hip ratio by dividing the waist measurement in inches into the hip measurement. The goal in adults is to be less than 1.0. In kids, a measurement of 0.9 or above may mean they are at risk.