Due to unhealthy food choices, obesity in teenagers has increased substantially. Now, a team of researchers has found that obesity in late adolescence is linked to death from heart disease, stroke and sudden death in adulthood.
Their study, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, was based on a national database of 2.3 million Israeli 17-year-olds in whom height and weight were measured between 1967 and 2010.
They assessed the association between body-mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and death from coronary heart disease, stroke, and sudden death in adulthood by mid-2011.
The results revealed that 2,918 of 32,127 deaths (9.1 percent) were from cardiovascular causes, including 1,497 from coronary heart disease, 528 from stroke and 893 from sudden death.
“Our findings appear to provide a link between the trends in adolescent overweight during the past decades and coronary mortality in midlife,” said senior study author Jeremy Kark from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“The continuing increase in adolescent BMI, and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents, may account for a substantial and growing future burden of cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease,” Kark explained.
As BMI scores increased into the 75th to 84th percentiles, adolescent obesity was associated with elevated risk of death from coronary heart disease, stroke and participants had an increased risk of sudden death.
BMI tends to track along the life course so that overweight adolescents tend to become overweight or obese adults, and overweight or obesity in adulthood affects the risk of cardiovascular disease.