Overweight boys at puberty are at increased risk of heart failure as they grow up than their slimmer peers, finds a study presented at European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Vienna, Austria. Boys who were normal weight at 8 years of age and became overweight during puberty were three times more likely to be diagnosed with heart failure as adults than boys who weren’t overweight as children or during puberty.
However, boys who were overweight at their childhood and managed to achieve a healthy body mass index (BMI) during puberty do not appear to be at increased risk of heart failure as adults.
26 million adults worldwide are affected by Heart failure. Previous researchers have well established that weight gain during middle-age contributes to increased risk of heart failure and have also suggested a link between high BMI in young adulthood and adult heart failure in men, but it is unclear whether childhood BMI or changes in BMI during puberty alter this risk.
Dr. Maria Bydgell and his associates conducted a study to examine how BMI in childhood and BMI change during puberty are associated with heart failure in adulthood.
The study analyzed BMI (body weight relative to height) at age 8 years and BMI during puberty (calculated as BMI at age 20 minus BMI at age 8) which was obtained from pediatric growth charts and mandatory military conscription examinations and was followed up for an average time period of 37.7 years. (after age 20)
The study found that 342 men were admitted to hospital with heart failure, with an average age at diagnosis of 53.2 years.
The results of the study were analyzed by the researchers which showed that boys who were normal weight at 8 years of age and became overweight during puberty were three times more likely to be diagnosed with heart failure as adults than boys who weren’t overweight as children or during puberty (2.2% participants who were normal weight during childhood and overweight at age 20 [BMI above 25 kg/m2] vs 0.8% participants who were normal weight at both 8 and 20 years of age). There was no association between being overweight in childhood and heart failure.
The researchers also found that the risk of heart failure increased with increasing BMI change during puberty. Boys in the upper quartile of BMI change during puberty were more than twice as likely to develop heart failure as adults compared to those with a BMI change in the lower quartile.
The authors concluded that sustained obesity epidemic could offset the current trend of declining cardiovascular death rates. The findings of the study emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy weight from an early age and as the heart failure is on the rise in young adults, more action needs to be taken worldwide to control the growing epidemic of obesity.