Teenage Weight a Predictor of Heart Disease Later

Teenage Weight a Predictor of Heart Disease Later

When you think of Sweden you might think of Steig Larsson’s books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), the music of Abba (Dancing Queen), or the films of Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal). Well, we think you should add the researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenberg to that list. They’ve discovered a very important fact: How much you weigh as a teenager (they have records of 1,610,437 18-year-old males who were conscribed into military service between 1968 and 2005) is linked to your risk of heart failure in early middle age (around 47)!

If a teen’s BMI (body mass index) hits 25.1 (that’s someone five feet-eight inches tall who weighs 165 pounds), the risk of heart failure later in life triples. The kid’s risk increases six fold if his BMI hits 30-34; and increases 10 fold above a BMI of 35.

These findings are very bad news for American teens: More than one in five kids ages 12 to 19 are obese, millions more are overweight. Parents, schools, and communities need to make sure kids are taught healthful eating habits, have access to healthful school lunches (Michelle Obama has championed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act for federally-funded school lunches) and there’s a community commitment to providing all citizens with access to safe, convenient outdoor and indoor exercise facilities.

Left unchecked heart failure will be teaming up with type 2 diabetes (expected to affect millions of now-overweight kids) to create a Bergmanesque endgame in which no one is a winner.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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