High levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are present in some overweight children, a new study finds. CRP is a substance that indicates to doctors the presence of inflammation inside the body and can be a sensitive predictor of future heart disease. Researcher Marjolein Visser, PhD, of Amsterdam's Vrije University, says she focused on children in her study because they are less likely than adults to be experiencing other factors that could cause a rise in CRP levels, for instance smoking. The scientists found that even in children as young as 8, obesity is associated with this chronic inflammation, and consequently vulnerable to the health risks associated with it. In the Dutch study researchers examined CRP levels in a group of about 3,500 children living in the U.S. They found more cases of elevated CRP in overweight children than in kids of normal weight, and they also determined that being overweight is associated with a higher white blood cell count, confirming the presence of low-grade inflammation. Full findings are published in the January issue of Pediatrics.