Overweight and obesity has increased significantly recent decades among children and teenagers. Studies have shown that in some Western countries, up to one third of children and teenagers are obese. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study where the relationship between BMI (body mass index) and heart disease in 2.3 million youths from Israel were examined. The special features of this study are the large sample of youths who were investigated, and the correlation between BMI in teenagers and heart disease in midlife.
The most important finding was that the risk of cardiac death already began to increase in teenagers who had a BMI in the 50-74th percentile, which included those who had BMI only just above average or were classified as normal weight. Higher BMI when young was correlated with an increasing risk of cardiac death before the age of 61. For example, those who were morbidly obese at 17 to 18 years old had a 3.5-fold increased risk of cardiac death before age 61 years compared with those who were thin at the same age. A weakness of the study is that they had no control on the activity level of the participants, and we know from previous studies that the risk of cardiac death is not necessarily increased if you exercise and are in good shape even if you are overweight.
Read also: Why “Survival of the fittest”?
This study shows the importance of healthy diet and an active lifestyle early in life. Facilitate and stimulate an active and healthy lifestyle early in life – your children will enjoy it for the rest of their life!
Since the BMI-numbers differ a lot in children, teenagers and adults, we have chosen to leave them out of this text.
Tomas Stølen, Researcher at CERG