Obesity at 25 Tied to Shorter Lifespan

Obesity during young adulthood significantly increases the risk of early death, research shows, demonstrating the need to watch your weight from an early age.

Obesity in young adulthood could shorten lifespanIndividuals who are overweight in their mid-20s may have a shorter lifespan, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Obesity rates in the U.S. have risen steadily over the past two decades, and nearly a third of all adults are clinically obese. For young adults, the effect of carrying excess weight could take years off their life, researchers say.

Young adults are “so much heavier now than they were 20 years ago,” said June Stevens, Ph.D., a nutrition and epidemiology professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and lead author of the study.

The risk of dying was 21 percent higher in those with a higher body mass index (BMI). After factoring in smoking, alcohol consumption and activity, researchers determined that being overweight at age 25 was associated with a 28 percent higher chance of dying at a younger age. The finding was true for all ethnic groups, with African-American women experiencing the biggest impact of being overweight at 25 compared to Caucasian women.

Although trimming down later in life can still deliver significant health benefits for those who are overweight, the effects of obesity can have a lasting impact.

“You can’t just make up for it by losing weight later. You need to be concerned about your BMI throughout your young adulthood,” said Dr. Stevens.

Previous studies have shown that excess weight increases the risk of early death from a variety of causes, including cancer and heart disease. The latest findings underscore the need for young adults to watch their weight and follow a healthy lifestyle.

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