Weight Gain in Younger Adults Linked to Increased Health Risks Later


Small, gradual weight gain during early and middle adulthood may get little attention since it doesn’t necessarily cause health problems in our younger years. But, it may have serious consequences later in life. Scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston looked at data from nearly 120,000 adults (primarily white health professionals). They found that, compared to keeping weight stable, each 5-kilogram (11-pound) increase in weight from young adulthood through age 55 was associated with a:

31% increased risk of type 2 diabetes

14% increased risk of hypertension

8% increased risk of cardiovascular disease

8% increased risk of dying prematurely (among never smokers)

6% increased risk of obesity-related cancer

17% decreased odds of achieving healthy aging into their 70s

“In young and middle adulthood, weight gain primarily reflects an increase in body fat, which contributes to insulin resistance, dyslipidemia [unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels], chronic inflammation and other metabolic disorders,” says Frank Hu, MD, PhD, senior author of the study. “These findings suggest that prevention of weight gain by following a healthy dietary pattern and lifestyle is of paramount importance.” The study is published in JAMA.

To learn more: Journal of the American Medical Association, July 2017


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