banner
Health Team

UNC study: Obese teens at greatest risk of becoming obese adults

Posted November 9, 2010

Obese adolescents are 16 times more likely to become severely obese by age 30 than their healthy-weight or even overweight peers, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In a study published in the Nov. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health found that nearly 40 percent of obese adolescents were expected to become severely obese, compared to only 2.5 percent of their healthy-weight or overweight peers.

Researchers defined adult severe obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 40, and being overweight and obese as a BMI greater than 25.

"This study highlights the importance for interventions both targeted at obesity before adolescence and also preventing the transition from obesity in adolescents to severe obesity,” Natalie The, a postdoctoral research associate and lead author of the study, said.

Obese teens more likely to be obese adults Obese teens more likely to be obese adults

The 13-year study involved more than 8,000 individuals, ages 12 to 21, across all weight, sex and racial and ethnic groups. Nearly 8 percent who were not severely obese as teens became severely obese as young adults. Seventy percent of the teens who were severely obese remained so as they aged.

The study found that while 1.2 percent of males and 2.4 percent of females who were normal weight as adolescents became severely obese as adults, 37 percent of males and 51 percent of females who were obese as adolescents became severely obese as adults. The risk of becoming severely obese was highest in black females.

The link found between adolescent obesity and adult severe obesity suggests intervention programs might be most effective during childhood or adolescence, before the worst weight gain occurs, said senior study author Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition at UNC.

"Obese adolescents are at considerably high risk for becoming adults with severe obesity," Gordon-Larsen said. "Given the rapid rise in severe obesity and its associated health risks, early prevention efforts are critically needed."

26 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • haleibc Nov 16, 2010

    Lets do a study of the study that did a study on the study and waste more and more tax money.

  • peppercorns Nov 16, 2010

    They spent money on this research...???? They could give a grant or two and I can give them some interesting results too. Like, "Obese parents usually have obese kids," and "Obese people take up more room in chairs then their thinner counterparts," And the ever popular "Obese people require more fabric to make their clothes."
    The whole obese people are making our health cost go up is bunk!..It's those sick people. All of them, white, black, yellow, fat, green, skinny, pink with polka dots, it doesn't matter what color or size...it's the sick people that cost us money!!! WOW it's the truth. Some of you just keep complaining and yipping until you have a sick person in your family. Then you'll be glad you have health coverage.

  • dannyg Nov 15, 2010

    This is so cool. Wonder if I can get government money to study the reason turtles don't fly, or something? Is it really hard to understand why our federal deficit is out of control?

  • delilahk2000 Nov 15, 2010

    PURPLERADO, YOU ARE RIGHT ON, LET THEM PAY MORE IN INS. INSTEAD OF ME. I DO NOT GO OFTEN, ONLY WHEN NEEDED,AND I WAS TOLD MY PREMIUM IS GOING UP 75.00 MORE A MONTH, BECAUSE OF PEOPLE ABUSING THE SYSTEM. WELL THEN LET THEM PAY DEARLY AND NOT THE ONES WHO DO NOT GO AT THE DROP OF A HAT......I AM SICK OF THE ABUSE AT MY EXSPENCE TO THE I MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO PAY.....

  • delilahk2000 Nov 15, 2010

    ANOTHER TOTAL WAIST OF OUR TAX MONEY. WE ALREADY KNOW WHY PEOPLE ARE OVER WEIGHT AND THEIR KIDS!!! WE DID NOT NEED TO BE TOLD. SOME OF THESE STUDIES ARE ARE SO STUPID, AS AN EXAMPLE TO THE ONE YEARS AGO AS TO WHY RIVERS OVERFLOW.. DUHHHHHH WE KNEW WHY NO STUDY NEEDED. REALLY SMART GOV,\. WASTE......

  • purplerado Nov 12, 2010

    "The link found between adolescent obesity and adult severe obesity suggests intervention programs might be most effective during childhood or adolescence". Hmm- that is truly groundbreaking! Do you think? I see obese people all day long (and their children with them) at fast food restaurants and walking around drinking fountain sodas. This is self inflicted, a lack of personal responsibility. Charge them a lot more for their health care; that would be an effective intervention, especially if parents have to pay a huge surcharge for their fat kids' insurance and doctor visits for feeding them junk food. Hurt them! It isn't fair for the rest of us who are charged more to subsidize their medical expenses. But wait - I forgot - the health care system is about making profits from people being sick. So they're not going to support any intervention that would cut into their profits! So who's going to intervene if the parents won't?

  • whatelseisnew Nov 12, 2010

    It took a study to figure this out? Good gosh almighty.

  • lilolisa2001 Nov 12, 2010

    I have heard of some stupid ways to waste money, but this one comes in at #1.

  • honestyisthebest Nov 11, 2010

    Okay, so UNC wastes money for a study that everyone already knows....so this is why they are saying there will be yet another $2000 tuition increase per student next. Is this so they can do more pointless studies?

  • WhitePony Nov 10, 2010

    "UNC study: Obese teens at greatest risk of becoming obese adults"

    Well now, those ARE surprising results! Normally I think the studies I help pay for with my taxes are pointless, but NOT THIS TIME I DON'T!! Say, isn't this the same school who once conducted a study on why criminals want to get out of prison?

More...