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Obesity by age 25 increases risk of severe obesity later in life

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People who are obese by age 25 have a high chance of becoming severely obese later in life, Medical News Today reported.

In a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers found that 25-year-old men who were obese had a 23.1 percent probability of developing class III obesity— defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40— after age 35. In comparison, men who were at a normal weight at age 25 only had a  1.1 percent chance of becoming severely obese within the next decade.  

Among obese women, the likelihood of developing severe obesity was even greater, with a 46.9 percent probability for obese 25-year-olds, compared to a 4.8 percent probability for normal-weight women.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the 1999-2010 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which assesses the health and nutrition status of adults and children through a representative sample of 5,000 persons a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of adults over age 20 are obese.

Researchers also found that weight loss during any stage of life can reduce cardiovascular and metabolic risks, regardless of how long an individual has been obese or overweight.

"This is good news in some respects, as overweight and obese young adults who can prevent additional weight gain can expect their biological risk factors to be no worse than those who reach the same level of BMI later in life,” lead study author Jennifer B. Dowd, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at City University of New York School of Public Health, Hunter College, said.

The study noted that current weight is a stronger indicator for cardiovascular and metabolic risk than duration of obesity. However, duration of obesity may still have implications for mobility and musculoskeletal disease, researchers noted.

Dowd warned that “maintaining a stable level of obesity from a young age is not the norm, and being obese at age 25 years places individuals at risk of a much more severe level of obesity later in life compared to those who are normal weight at age 25 years."

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