Picture of an Obese Teenager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Men who are obese in their early twenties are significantly less likely to live to reach middle age, according to a new study published in the BMJ.
They are also up to eight times more likely to suffer diabetes, potentially fatal blood clots or a heart attack.
It is well known that obesity in adulthood poses a risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but previously it had not been clear whether obesity in early adulthood strengthens that risk.
Danish researchers tracked the health of 6,500 Danish 22-year-old men for 33 years up to the age of 55.
All the men were born in 1955 and had registered with the Military Board for a fitness test to gauge their suitability for military service.
All potential conscripts in Denmark are subjected to a battery of psychological and physical tests, including weight.
Over 80 per cent were within the normal range and five per cent were underweight.
One in 10 were overweight and just over one per cent – equating to 97 men - were obese.
Normal weight is classified as a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 25; obesity is classified as a BMI of 30 or more.
Almost half of those classified as obese at the age of 22 were diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, blood clots in the legs or lungs, or had died before reaching the age of 55.
They were eight times more likely to get diabetes as their normal weight peers and four times as likely to get a potentially fatal blood clot.
They were also more than twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, have had a heart attack, or to have died.
Every unit increase in BMI corresponded to an increased heart attack rate of five per cent, high blood pressure and blood clot rates of 10 per cent, and an increased diabetes rate of 20 per cent.
In total, obese young men were three times as likely to get any of these serious conditions as their normal weight peers by middle age, conferring an absolute risk of almost 50 per cent compared with only 20 per cent among their normal weight peers.
The findings, published in the BMJ, have prompted researchers to warn that the continuing rise in obesity may counteract the fall in deaths from heart disease.
They said: ‘Obesity-related morbidity and mortality will, in decades to come, place an unprecedented burden on healthcare systems worldwide.’
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