For obese teens, weight problems persist into young adulthood

September 7, 2010 By Amy Sutton, Health Behavior News Service

The older teens get, the more likely they are to pack on pounds, and obesity rates climb sharply between adolescence and young adulthood, finds a new study from Australia.

“Being obese as an adolescent is bad news. If an adolescent gets to the point of being obese, the likelihood of spontaneous recovery to normal weight by young adulthood is small,” said George Patton, M.D., director of the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Victoria.

Between 1992 and 2003, Patton and colleagues tracked the height, weight and (BMI) of 1,520 , starting at age 14 and continuing through age 24.

By mid-adolescence, one in five teens was , but by age 24, that proportion increased to one in three. Forty percent of overweight young adults had never even been overweight during the teens, the authors reported in the study, which appears in the latest issue of the .

“For the group who were consistently obese as teenagers, over 60 percent were still obese, and none got to a normal healthy weight,” Patton said.

Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, said the study is remarkable because it is one of few to track teens from adolescence into adulthood.

“What you don’t know about this study is whether those kids in adolescence were trying to do anything about their weight. The assumption is that everyone who’s overweight is trying, but we don’t know if any of those teenagers have access to effective ways to lose weight,” Boutelle said. She had no affiliation with the study.

There are some grounds for optimism for teens with weight concerns, however. Teens who were overweight for less than a year in adolescence generally had returned to a normal weight by young adulthood, particularly among girls.

“Only 30 percent of this group of girls was still overweight compared with 60 percent of boys. This suggests that in this group, lifestyle interventions such as eating sensibly and exercising may work well,” Patton said.

More information: Patton GC, et al. Overweight and obesity between adolescence and young adulthood: A 10-year prospective cohort study. J Adol Health, 2010.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.