Teenage weight gain can lead to serious heart problems later in life
Gaining weight during puberty can lead to a heart attack or stroke later in life.
A team of experts from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg found that young boys in particular are putting their future health at risk most by piling on the pounds as teenagers.
Looking at more than 37,600 men born between 1945 and 1961, whose height and weight were recorded from school healthcare reports and compulsory military service tests, the researchers were able to determine the change in Body Mass Index (BMI) by using indicators at eight and 20 years old.
It was found that boys with increased cardiovascular mortality (death by heart problems) saw their BMI jump up in puberty. Going up by seven units is particularly dangerous.
“In this study, we show that a large increase in BMI during puberty is particularly important, while high BMI at age eight is not linked to increased risk of cardiovascular death,” lead researcher Jenny Kindblom said.
No link was found for children who were overweight before puberty and didn’t have a significant change in their BMI after growth changes.
Becoming heavier during puberty is normal, but the team is now calling on schools to monitor any changes in BMI to cut the risk of heart problems later in life.
“Our data suggest that BMI should be monitored in schoolchildren extra closely during puberty for the early identification of individuals at high risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease in the future,” co-researcher professor Claes Ohlsson added.