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21-07-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Childhood obesity increases death risk in later life


Free abstract

MedWire News: Findings from a systematic review show that being overweight or obesity in childhood and adolescence is associated with an increased risk for premature death and morbidity in adulthood.

The authors say that these results should help to encourage clinical service providers and policy makers to consider childhood obesity prevention as a method of minimizing long-term consequences.

The review, led by John Reilly, from the University of Glasgow in the UK, involved 25 studies that assessed the outcomes of overweight or obese (body mass index of ≥25 kg/m2) individuals aged 18 years or younger. Five studies assessed premature death as an outcome, and 11 analyzed the occurrence of cardiometabolic morbidity, defined as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and ischemic heart disease in adulthood. The remaining nine studies looked specifically at other forms of morbidity in later life.

As reported in the International Journal of Obesity, a significant association was observed between childhood overweight and obesity and an increased risk for premature death in adulthood in all but one of the relevant studies.

And all studies assessing cardiometabolic morbidity as the primary outcome revealed a significant (up to five-fold) increase in the risk for this outcome among overweight and obese children compared with those of normal weight.

Findings from the studies that investigated other morbidities as an outcome showed that being overweight or obese in childhood significantly increased the risks for adulthood asthma, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and requiring a disability pension, compared with being of a normal weight.

However, no definite relationship was observed between childhood obesity and the development of cancer in adulthood.

The authors conclude: "The estimates of strength associations between child or adolescent obesity and later outcome may also be helpful to health economic assessments of the long-term impact of childhood obesity prevention and treatment interventions."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor