The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight in Adolescents

A computer simulation was used to project the annual excess incidence of heart disease, heart disease events, and deaths from both heart disease and other causes related to obesity from 2020 to 2035. The prediction was modeled using historical trends regarding overweight adolescents in 2000 who become obese adults.

The prevalence of obese 35-year-olds is expected to increase in 2020 to a range of 30-37% in men and 34-44% in women. As a result of this increased obesity, an increase in the incidence of heart disease and related deaths is projected to occur in young adulthood. By 2035, it is estimated that the prevalence of heart disease will increase by a range of 5-16%, with more than 100,000 excess cases caused by the increased obesity.

Although projections into the future are subject to uncertainties, based on current data it is a reasonable assumption that adolescent obesity will increase rates of heart disease among future young and middle-aged adults, resulting in substantial increases in disease and death rates.

Researchers concluded that aggressive treatment with currently available therapies to reverse obesity-related risk factors may reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the calculated increase in the number of heart disease events.

Bibbins-Domingo K, Coxson P, Pletcher MJ, Lightwood J, Goldman L. Adolescent overweight and future adult coronary heart disease. N Engl J Med. 2007 Dec 6;357(23):2371-9.