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Overweight Younger Adults as Healthy as Normal-Weight Peers?

But study only looked at meds and didn't address issue of undiagnosed disease

FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- There's good news for fat people who are nearing middle age: A new study finds that judged by medication use alone, 25-to-39-year-olds who are classified as obese aren't more likely to suffer illness than people of normal weight.

So, should you put on the extra pounds with no worries? Not exactly, since being obese at a young age can still raise the risk of health problems later in life.

The researchers examined data on medication usage from a national survey from 1988-1994, 2003-2004 and 2005-2006. A total of 9,071 women and 8,880 men aged 25 to 70 were included.

The research team ruled out drugs used to treat mental illnesses or medications not associated with physical illnesses.

The study examined statistics about body-mass index, a number that measures whether a person's weight and height are proportional.

"For college-age adults, this should help them realize that they don't have to worry so much if they have a BMI of 27 or 28. Some young people with these BMIs feel like, 'I'm going to have all these problems, I need to try 50 different diets.' And what is all that stress and dieting doing to your body? Probably more damage than the extra 15 pounds is," study author Brant Jarrett, a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University, said in a news release from the school.

A limitation of the study is that it determined health based only on the medications that people were taking, so some youth could have had undiagnosed medical problems or diseases.

The findings appear online May 25 in the International Journal of Obesity.

More information

Try the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more about obesity.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Ohio State University, May 25, 2010, press release.

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