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Obesity in Early Adulthood Tied to Higher Risk for Early Mortality

Findings observed for both maintaining obesity and gaining weight early in adult life

FRIDAY, Oct. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Weight gain in young adulthood and stable obesity across adulthood are associated with increased risks for early death, according to a study published online Oct. 16 in The BMJ.

Chen Chen, from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and colleagues used data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2014) to identify 36,051 people (aged ≥40 years) with measured body weight and height at baseline and recalled weight at young adulthood (25 years old) and middle adulthood (10 years before baseline).

The researchers found that during a mean follow-up of 12.3 years, there were 10,500 deaths. Compared with participants who maintained normal weight, individuals who moved from the nonobese to obese category between young and middle adulthood had a higher risk for all-cause mortality and heart disease mortality (hazard ratios [HRs], 1.22 and 1.49, respectively). There was no significant association noted between changing from obese to nonobese body mass index during this period and mortality risk. From middle to late adulthood, an obese to nonobese weight change pattern was associated with an increased risk for all-cause mortality (HR, 1.30) and heart disease mortality (HR, 1.48), while moving from the nonobese to obese category during this period was not significantly associated with mortality risk. There was a continued increased mortality risk associated with maintaining obesity across adulthood (HRs: 1.72 from young to middle adulthood; 1.61 from young to late adulthood; and 1.20 from middle to late adulthood).

“The findings imply that maintaining normal weight across adulthood, especially preventing weight gain in early adulthood, is important for preventing premature deaths in later life,” the authors write.

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