New Study Links Adolescent Obesity To Higher Mortality In Adulthood

Apr 15, 2016 05:26 AM EDT | By Mark Jason Alcala

Clinic In Wuhan Treats Obese Teenager With Acupuncture
WUHAN, CHINA - MARCH 17: (CHINA OUT) A doctor treats fifteen-year-old Huang Jiaxin with acupuncture for obesity at the Aimin Slimming Centre on March 17, 2006 in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China. Doctors have combined acupuncture, exercise and diet to help the 160kg (about 353 pounds) boy lose weight. China is still a developing country, but obesity is becoming a prominent public health hazard. An official from the Ministry of Health revealed that more than 200 million Chinese people are overweight.
(Photo : Photo by China Photos/Getty Image)

A recent study in Israel underscores the importance of fighting obesity early on. Apparently, adolescents with higher BMI, a parameter used to determine whether a person is obese or not, also carried an increased risk of dying due to cardiovascular diseases in their adulthood.

A research team composed of Professor Jeremy Kark and Dr. Hagai Levine, both from Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of Medicine teamed up with Dr. Gilad Twig from Sheba Medical Center. The team studied if there is a link between body mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and adult cases of cardiovascular-related deaths, reports Medical Xpress.

The study is broad in scope covering more than five decades of data from 1967 to 2010 obtained from a national database of 2.3 million Israeli 17 years old. Using mid-2011 as cut off, researchers tried to determine if there is a link between deaths from stroke, sudden death and coronary heart disease to the earlier recorded BMIs of participants when they were still in their teens.

By cut off time, 32,127 of the 2.3 million participants have already died. Researchers noted that 2,918 or 9.1 percent of the deaths were caused by cardiovascular problems which are broken down to 1,497 deaths from coronary heart disease, 893 sudden deaths and 528 deaths from stroke.

When adolescent BMI of the participants was taken into consideration, researchers concluded that adolescent with BMI values of 20 and above showed an increased risk of dying due to cardiovascular causes. This is particularly surprising because normal BMI range is between 18 and 26 in adolescents, according to LiveStrong. However, the researcher did notice that as the participants' adolescent BMI became higher, so are their risks of dying of cardiovascular issues.

According to the researchers involved in the study, there are two possible explanations for the observed link. A possible explanation is the obesity is particularly harmful in adolescence because of unhealthy plasma lipid, metabolic abnormalities, insulin resistance and early formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Another reason for the associated high mortality rates is that obesity tends to stick; obese adolescents are more likely to become obese later in adulthood, which exposes them to health risks associated with obesity.

Another similar study was done in Norway between 1963 to1999, also observed the same connection. The study involved 128,121 adolescents aged 14-19 years old wherein the scientists observed that obesity in adolescence is most likely to continue to adulthood. Like the Jerusalem study, the Norwegian study likewise observed that a high adolescent BMI also corresponds to higher mortality in adulthood.


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