A recent study at University of California, San Francisco and Columbia University Medical Center has revealed that overweight adolescents are more prone to cardiovascular diseases in young adulthood.
The researchers estimated the possible impact of an increasingly overweight U.S. adolescent population on future adult health using a computer-based statistical modeling system known as the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Policy Model.
The study based on the numbers of overweight adolescents in 2000 found that up to 37 percent of males and 44 percent of females tend to be obese when they would reach 35 years of age, in 2020.
As a consequence these young adults are expected suffer heart attacks, chronic chest pain and more deaths before they reach age 50.
The model also estimated more than 100,000 extra cases of heart disease by 2035, which is a 16 percent increase over today's figures, and a rise in obesity-related CHD deaths by as much as 19 percent.
According to Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, lead author of the study said the young adults would suffer heart problems when they are 35-50 years old.
"Today's adolescents are the young adults of tomorrow - young adults who would ordinarily be working, raising their families, and not worried about heart disease until they are much older," said Kirsten
"Our study suggests that more of these young adults will have heart disease when they are 35-50 years old, resulting in more hospitalizations, medical procedures, need for chronic medications, missed work days and shortened life expectancy," she added.
She further said that the study highlights the importance of preventing obesity before it starts in children. The current high rate of overweight is not just a problem for adolescents and their parents; it's something that will affect all of us well into the future.
Lee Goldman, architect of the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center said that being overweight in adolescents means even higher weights later on.
"Although the general findings of our analysis are not surprising, we were struck by the sheer magnitude of the impact of adolescent obesity and, as a result, how important it is as a public health priority," Goldman said.
The findings also specified that controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels at a young age will help, but heart disease rates could still rise due to the persistent risk of diabetes associated with obesity.
"One of the major health risks for an obese person is becoming diabetic because diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and many other health complications. Unfortunately, it is currently very difficult to lower the likelihood of getting diabetes once a person is obese," Bibbins-Domingo added.
The study is published in the Dec. 6, 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine.