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Early obesity presents higher costs and more health risks

Obesity more of a danger when it starts young.
Obesity more of a danger when it starts young.
Photo: colros/flickr

It comes as no surprise that being overweight or obese leads to numerous health problems, from hypertension and diabetes to sleep apnea and more.  It is also no surprise, certainly  to those who are obese at least, that there are socio-economic consequences to obesity as well.  A new study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests that both the health risks and socio-economic harm are considerably increased for those who have long been overweight as opposed to those who slowly gain weight in early adulthood.

This study looked at two populations of overweight and obese adults, those who were of normal weight in high school and slowly gained weight in their 20s and 30s and those who were overweight already in high school and continued to gain weight afterward.  In so doing, researchers found that the group that was overweight or obese throughout this time were significantly more at risk of chronic illnesses (such as diabetes or hypertension) as well as much more likely to be receiving government assistance like unemployment or welfare checks.  This group was also more likely to be single in their 40s than the group that started out at a normal weight.

While this study is just the beginning of research into the social aspects of obesity, it lends support to the idea that society needs to address childhood obesity as a serious problem.  This research lends credibility to curb obesity in schools, like the legislation passed in Ohio in June.  This research also makes children's programs, like the Kids Club at the Columbus Metro Parks, that highlight playing and enjoying physical activities more important.


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