Some Teens with a Healthy BMI May Still Be at an Increased Risk for Cardiovascular Disease as Adults!

9 Jun

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by his or her height in meters squared. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines normal weight, overweight, and obesity by BMI rather than the traditional height/weight charts.

Because research has shown a higher BMI during adulthood increases a person’s risk for a host of health problems, a team of Israeli researchers used long-term data collected from 2.3 million individuals from their teen years through late adulthood to see if BMI during adolescence is predictive of future health issues.

Their study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that even teens with a body mass index considered normal may have a greater risk for cardiovascular problems later in life. For teenagers, a normal weight is one that falls within the 5th and 85th percentile for their age group. Those whose BMI sits between the 85th and 95th percentile are overweight and those in the 95th percentile or higher are obese in comparison to their peers. In this study, the data show teens in the 50th to 74th percentiles, which is considered to be normal weight, had an elevated risk of cardiovascular death in adulthood when compared with those in the lower percentiles. (Additionally, those who are considered overweight or obese as teens are more likely to experience health problems as they age, possibly because they’re more likely to remain overweight or obese in adulthood.)

The authors of this study note that they’ve also observed a trend of increasing BMI among teens over time, indicating that more are placing themselves at greater risk for cardiovascular disease as they grow older. They no doubt would stress the importance of teenagers creating healthy lifestyle habits while they’re young (like eating healthy foods, staying away from junk food, not smoking or drinking alcohol, getting enough sleep, exercising, maintaining healthy vitamin D levels, etc.) so it’s easier to live a healthy life when they’re adults.


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