Obese Teens at Risk of Being Severely Obese As Adults

Outcome 16 times more likely in obese adolescents than normal-weight, overweight counterparts

TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Obese adolescents face a higher risk of developing severe obesity in young adulthood, according to research published in the Nov. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Natalie S. The, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed data from 8,834 participants, aged 12 to 21, in the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health who were followed into adulthood.

The researchers found that obese adolescents were more likely to develop severe obesity -- defined as a body mass index of 40 kg/m² or higher -- during young adulthood than participants who were of normal weight or who were overweight (hazard ratio, 16.0). Among those who were obese as adolescents, the rate of incident severe obesity was 37.1 percent in men, 51.3 percent in women, and 52.4 percent in black women in particular. Fewer than 5 percent of those at a normal weight in adolescence became severely obese adults.

"The clinical implications of these observed trends are concerning given the comorbidities and chronic disease associated with severe obesity," the authors conclude. "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."

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