Washington DC: Teen BMI can predict the risk of cardiovascular death in adulthood, according to a recent study.
In light of the worldwide increase in childhood obesity, Hebrew University's Jeremy Kark, together with Dr. Gilad Twig of the Sheba Medical Center, Dr. Hagai Levine of the Braun School and other colleagues in Israel, set out to determine the association between body-mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and death from cardiovascular causes in adulthood.
Their study was based on a national database of 2.3 million Israeli 17 year olds in whom height and weight were measured between 1967 and 2010. The researchers assessed the association between BMI in late adolescence and death from coronary heart disease, stroke, and sudden death in adulthood by mid-2011.
The results showed an increase in the risk of cardiovascular death in the group that was considered within the "accepted normal" range of BMI, in the 50th to 74th percentiles, and of death from coronary heart disease at BMI values above 20.
The researchers concluded that even BMI considered "normal" during adolescence was associated with a graded increase in cardiovascular and all-cause mortality during the 40 years of follow-up. This included increased rates of death from coronary heart disease, stroke, and total cardiovascular causes among participants.
As BMI scores increased into the 75th to 84th percentiles, adolescent obesity was associated with elevated risk of death from coronary heart disease, stroke, sudden death from unknown causes, and death from total cardiovascular causes, as well as death from non-cardiovascular causes and death from all causes. Participants also had an increased risk of sudden death.
Kark said that the findings appear to provide a link between the trends in adolescent overweight during the past decades and coronary mortality in midlife. The continuing increase in adolescent BMI, and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents, may account for a substantial and growing future burden of cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease.
The study appears in New England Journal of Medicine.