Weight gain in early adulthood linked to increased risk of early death

Obese adults who do not cut to a healthy body weight by middle age are 20% more likely to die early, study suggests

  • Gaining weight between 25-47 increases risk of early death by 22%, study found
  • Continuing to pile on the pounds past middle age hikes chances of dying young
  • Scientists from Huazhong University examined the health of 36,051 US citizens 

Obese adults who do not cut to a healthy body weight by middle age are increasing their risk of dying young by more than a fifth, a study has warned.   

Scientists from Huazhong University, China, found that gaining weight between the age of 25 and 47 hikes the chances of an early death from any cause by 22 per cent.

And continuing to pile on the pounds past your 40s raises the likelihood of dying prematurely even further.

But Dr Chen Chen and his co-authors also found that those who drop from an obese to a healthy BMI after hitting middle age still have a 30 per cent higher chance of early death.

Obese adults (file photo) who do not cut to a healthy body weight by middle age are increasing their risk of dying young by more than a fifth, a study has warned

Their study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), analysed data for 36,051 US citizens who were 40 or over.

This sample were weighed and measured at the start, and told researchers how much they weighed at 25 and 35. During a 12-year follow-up of these people, 10,500 deaths were recorded.

After stripping factors that may influence results, experts found that, compared with people of a healthy weight, those who became obese between the age of 25 and middle adulthood had a 22 per cent higher risk of early death from any cause.

A 49 per cent increased risk of death from heart disease was also observed. 

Overall, being obese during the entirety of adult life carried the biggest risks – with up to a 72 per cent increased danger of dying young.  

Being obese throughout one’s entire adulthood poses the greatest risk, hiking one’s chances of an early death by 72 per cent

People who lost weight and went from being obese to a healthy weight over the same period had no increased risk. 

However, the same was not true for people who lost weight when they were older.

Those who moved from being obese to a healthy weight between middle age and later in life had a 30 per cent increased risk of dying early from any cause and a 48 per cent increased risk from heart disease.  

Although obesity has previously been linked to 12 separate cancers, in this study no association with weight change was reported. 

The authors concluded: ‘Stable obesity across adulthood, weight gain from young to middle adulthood, and weight loss from middle to late adulthood were associated with increased risks of mortality.

‘The findings imply that maintaining normal weight across adulthood, especially preventing weight gain in early adulthood, is important for preventing premature deaths in later life.’


Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.

A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9. 

Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.

Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age. 

For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.

Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese. 

The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.

This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.

Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.

Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.

Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.

Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers. 

This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.

Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.

Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults. 

And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.  

As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.  

Source: Read Full Article