Teens’ BMI Suggests Heart Health Risks Later-in-Life

Posted 06/01/2016 | By HealthCorps

Rates of childhood and teen obesity are still on an uptick here in the U.S. Currently, one third of U.S. teens are overweight or obese. A diagnosis of obesity raises the risk of a number of diseases. A new study examined the link between teens’ BMI and the risk of developing heart disease in adulthood.

Study Model

The study data was based on 2.3 million Israeli teens whose height and BMI was measured between 1967 and 2010. The data was not difficult to maintain since teens in Israel undergo medical evaluation before they serve in the Israeli army. In addition to height and weight, socioeconomic status, education and country of origin were noted. Follow up on deaths in the year 2011 was determined.

Findings from the study

During the 40 years of follow up, 2918 deaths out of a total of 32,127 deaths in the population were identified to be from cardiovascular (CV) causes.

Adolescents with a body mass index in the 50th to 74th percentiles had a 49% increased risk of coronary artery disease as adults.

Specifically, 1497 deaths were due to coronary heart disease, 528 were linked to stroke, and 893 died due to “sudden death.”

Researchers found a direct uptick in CV deaths linked to higher BMI rates. These were teens identified in the 50th to 74th percentile of the BMI scale.

Conclusion

This Israeli study was tremendously important because of the verified data gathered over a 40 year period in a very large cohort group of teens. This study only showed CV deaths related to BMI through middle age years. Middle age is typically when heart disease prevalence occurs. The researchers conclude that since obesity has been steadily rising here in the U.S. (and in other countries), it is likely that substantial increases in CV disease will occur in the general population.

Recommendations:

• Modifying lifestyle can help to reduce the BMI in the child and teen population.
• Working with your pediatrician or teen medicine specialist to find a healthy diet plan that will help your teen to lose weight if they are overweight or obese.
• Even if your teen currently has a normal BMI, it is likely that they can benefit from a healthier diet plan.
• Encouraging them to swap out sugary soda, juices and energy drinks for water, fat free milk and unsweetened teas.
• Making sure that non-meat proteins, fruits and vegetables feature prominently in their daily diet.
• Try to limit processed food consumption.
• Encourage them to start an exercise program and to consider joining an after school sports program, or team sports in school.

Sources: NEJM
Internal Medicine News

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