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Obese Teens Likely to Be Obese Adults, Study Finds
Date:11/9/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Obese teenagers are 16 times more likely to become severely obese adults than teens of normal weight, new research finds.

Someone who is severely obese is about 100 pounds or more above their ideal body weight, according to the study's senior author, Penny Gordon-Larsen, an associate professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"We were looking at adolescent weight status and how it relates to the development of severe obesity in adulthood because we're concerned that obesity and severe obesity have both increased over time, and during the period from teen to young adult, there's an increased risk for weight gain," explained Gordon-Larsen.

"Our study demonstrated that obese adolescents are at risk for becoming severely obese in adulthood, and I think if people understand the risk of severe obesity, which is a lot of extra weight, they might be motivated to make changes. Teens might at least be motivated to maintain their current weight," she said.

Results of the study are published in the Nov. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Severe obesity -- defined as a body mass index above 40 -- heightens the risk for a number of health complications, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and arthritis. In addition, people who are severely obese can expect significant reductions in life expectancy, according to background information in the study.

Gordon-Larsen and her colleagues reviewed data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health on 8,834 people who were 12 to 21 years old in 1996. The study had two follow-up periods: the first from 2001 to 2002 and the second from 2007 to 2009.

At the start of the study, 79 teens (about 1 percent) were considered severel
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