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Adolescent BMI May Predict Later Obesity-Related Disease

Last Updated: April 06, 2011.

An elevated body mass index at age 17, even one within what is considered normal, may be predictive of coronary heart disease in adulthood, according to research published in the April 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- An elevated body mass index (BMI) at age 17, even one within what is considered normal, may be predictive of coronary heart disease in adulthood, according to research published in the April 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Amir Tirosh, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues measured weight and height at regular intervals, starting at age 17, in 37,674 apparently healthy young men to examine the association of BMI from youth through adulthood with obesity-related diseases.

In multivariate models adjusted for family history, age, lifestyle factors, blood pressure, and biomarkers in blood, higher BMI in adolescence was found to be a significant predictor of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Further adjustment for BMI in adulthood suggested this association existed for coronary heart disease (hazard ratio, 6.85), but not diabetes (hazard ratio, 1.01), which appeared to be associated mainly with adult BMI.

"An elevated BMI in adolescence -- one that is well within the range currently considered to be normal -- constitutes a substantial risk factor for obesity-related disorders in midlife. Although the risk of diabetes is mainly associated with increased BMI close to the time of diagnosis, the risk of coronary heart disease is associated with an elevated BMI both in adolescence and in adulthood, supporting the hypothesis that the processes causing incident coronary heart disease, particularly atherosclerosis, are more gradual than those resulting in incident diabetes," the authors write.

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