Severely obese teens are at
increased risk for a host of serious health problems as adults, including
asthma, kidney disease and sleep disorders, according to a new study.
understand that the longer you carry extra weight, the higher your chances of
developing heart disease or diabetes," said study author Dr Thomas Inge,
professor of surgery and paediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre,
in Ohio. "But now it seems that an even larger number of conditions should
be added to the list of health problems that some obese teenagers will likely
face down the road."
The study, published online
in the journal Paediatrics, included more than 1 500 severely obese
American adults, aged 19 to 76. All were about to undergo weight-loss surgery.
They were asked about their weight at age 18 and then assessed for medical
problems related to obesity.
42% of the participants
were normal weight at age 18, the researchers found. But 29% were obese at 18,
including 13% who were severely obese. Ninety-six percent of the participants
had at least one obesity-related health condition.
Severe obesity was defined
as a body-mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater – 220 pounds or more for an
average-height woman. BMI is a calculation of body fat based on height and
Risk of serious health problems
The researchers found that
participants who were severely obese as teens had a greatly increased risk of
serious health problems compared to those who were normal weight as teens.
They were four times more
likely to have swollen legs with skin ulcers; more than three times more likely
to have severe walking limitations and abnormal kidney function; and much more
likely to have asthma, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea and polycystic ovary
syndrome, a condition that can cause cysts on a woman's ovaries.
"As the number of
children with severe obesity continues to increase, it is important for paediatricians
to inform families about the short- and long-term health issues linked to this
weight gain," Inge said in a medical centre news release.
The US National Institute
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains the health
risks of being overweight.