Healthy weight in young adulthood could mean longer life

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Excess weight at age 25 could shorten lifespan

Being overweight in young adulthood might shorten lifespan say researchers. High body mass index raises the chances of dying early by 21 percent. Maintaining a healthy weight at age 25 is linked to living longer.

When researchers factored in smoking, alcohol consumption and activity in a new study, being overweight at age 25 was associated with a 28 percent higher chance of dying at a younger age.

The finding, say study investigators, highlights the need f or a healthy lifestyle beginning early in life. Waiting to lose weight could …”translate into a shorter lifespan for many Americans”, said June Stevens, Ph.D., lead study author.

Stevens, who is a nutrition and epidemiology professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill says young adults are “so much heavier now than they were 20 years ago.”

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggests watching your weight early in life is important.

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

The finding was true for all ethnic groups, with the exception of African-American men, though the researchers aren’t sure why.

Higher body weight early in life had little influence on African-American men after adjusting for weight change throughout life.

The effect of being overweight at age 25 had the biggest impact on African-American women, compared to white women and on men compared to women.

The study suggests it's important for young adults to watch their weight and follow a healthy lifestyle. Excess weight could boost the chances of dying earlier from all causes.

Stevens, J., et al.
Body Mass Index at Age 25 and All-Cause Mortality in Whites and African Americans.
J Adol Healthonline, 2011.

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