Obese Teens at Risk for Severe Adult Obesity

According to a thirteen-year study tracking childhood obesity rates as they relate to future adult severe obesity rates, a greatly increased risk of adult obesity was confirmed for obese youths. The U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health started in 1996. The results of the study, published recently in The Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at severe obesity rates over time, comparing risks related to body weight as teenagers. Severe obesity is defined as being between 80 and 100 pounds above ideal weights, having a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40.

The large study tracked 8,834 young people, initially between the ages of 12 and 21, until they reached the ages of 24 to 33. Although researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill expected a correlation between youth obesity and the risk of adult obesity, the correlation was higher than expected.

As the youth were followed into adulthood, it was found that the severely obese teens were sixteen times more likely than others to become severely obese young adults. In comparison, only five percent of normal weight youths became severely obese adults.
Along with the increase in obesity, increases in associated health problems are expected. Concerns include increased rates of diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, and asthma.

An increase in obesity rates in New York and nationwide was confirmed in this study. At the beginning of the study one percent of participants were identified as severely obese. By 2009, almost eight percent of the youths in the study were severely obese.

New York Nutrition and Fitness Initiatives for Teens advocate a family plan for health and fitness that includes healthy foods and increased exercise to enhance medical weight loss.