Monday, April 11. 2011
A person's weight during their teen years can have a strong influence on their cardiovascular health during adulthood, even if their body mass index falls within the normal range, according to researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health.
A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that compared to their peers with the lowest BMIs, even teens who fall into the normal weight range have an increased chance of developing heart disease decades later, even if they are lean adults. For every one unit increase in BMI among older teenagers, researchers said there is a 12 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease 20 years later.
In a study of 37,674 men, scientists found that those with highest BMIs at 17 were 5.43 times more likely to have coronary heart disease later in life compared to those with the lowest. While researchers say the heaviest teens were also 2.76 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, they found that men who lost weight during adulthood were able to lower their risk for that ailment.
The study authors said their findings are more proof that parents and educators need to be vigilant in promoting healthy eating and exercise habits among children and teens. Overweight children are also more likely to receive higher health insurance premiums during adulthood, as a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 25 percent of obese adults in the U.S. were overweight as children.
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