A study suggests that being obese in adolescence increases the risk of being severely obese in adulthood, especially in women.
"In 2000, an estimated 2.2 percent of adults, or 4.8 million individuals, were severely obese, with a disproportionately higher prevalence in women and racial/ethnic minorities," wrote the authors of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"Understanding which individuals are at risk of severe obesity is essential for determining when interventions would need to be implemented to prevent obese individuals from progressing to severe obesity," they wrote.
Natalie S. The and colleagues conducted a study to determine the incidence and risk of severe obesity in adulthood among individuals who were obese during adolescence.
The researchers found that individuals with incident severe obesity in adulthood had a higher adolescent BMI and were more likely to be racial/ethnic minorities compared with individuals without severe obesity.
"A substantial proportion of obese adolescents became severely obese by their early 30s, with significant variation by sex. Among individuals who were obese as adolescents, incident severe obesity was 37.1 percent in men and 51.3 percent in women," the study said.
"Findings highlight the need for interventions prior to adulthood to prevent the progression of obesity to severe obesity, which may reduce severe obesity incidence and its potentially life-threatening consequences."
The study appears in the November 10 issue of JAMA.