*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
In a finding that confirms what many suspect, a new study shows that teens who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes or have a heart attack in their 30s and 40s.
These teens are also more likely to have other health issues down the road, regardless of whether they shed any excess weight during adulthood.
“Adolescence is an important time period to prevent future diabetes and heart attacks,” said study author Dr. Jason Nagata, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of adolescent and young adult medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
For the new study, the researchers analyzed data on 12,300 adolescents who were followed for 24 years as part of the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The investigators tracked body mass index (BMI) z-scores. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and the z–score puts it into perspective based on a child’s age and sex.
When compared with teens who had lower BMI-z scores, adolescents with higher scores had a nearly 9% increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a 0.8% greater risk for having a heart attack in their 30s and 40s, and a 2.6% higher risk for being in overall poorer health, and this held regardless of their adult BMI. The researchers also controlled for other factors known to affect health outcomes, such as race/ethnicity, tobacco, and alcohol use.
“Parents should encourage teenagers to develop healthy behaviors, such as regular physical activity and balanced meals,” Nagata said. Doctors should also consider BMI history in their evaluations, he added.
The findings were published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.