Adolescent overweight will increase future CHD rates

February 1, 2008

Recent data and trends suggest that adolescent overweight will cause increases in coronary heart disease young and middle-aged adults.

A recent analysis of currently available data and trends suggests that overweight among today's adolescents will cause substantial increases in the rate and effect of coronary heart disease (CHD) in young and middle-aged adults during the next 30 years.

Using data on adolescent overweight in 2000 (based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey figures) and historical trends regarding overweight adolescents who become obese adults, investigators estimated the prevalence of obese 35-year-olds in 2020. They then turned to the CHD policy model, a computer simulation of US residents 35 years of age or older, to make projections for 2020 to 2035.

Projections included the annual excess incidence and prevalence of CHD, the total number of excess CHD events, and excess deaths from both CHD and other causes attributable to obesity. Additional data sources used for these projections included the US Census, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Framingham Heart Study.

Investigators also projected that aggressive treatment of hypertension and dyslipidemia in young adulthood is required to lower the risk of CHD that is associated with obesity. Reversal of this risk also necessitates additional measures to address the obesity-related risk of diabetes (Bibbins-Domingo K et al: N Engl J Med 2007;357:2371).

Commentary:

This article is profoundly disturbing. It makes clear just how high the stakes are in the fight against childhood and adolescent obesity. This epidemic warrants mobilization of public health, education, research, and primary care resources similar to the historic efforts made against tuberculosis, vaccine-preventable infections, and AIDS, an ongoing battle. We need to put a March of Dimes to work against the ravages of overweight and obesity.