Young Adulthood: “A Neglected Period That Requires Attention”
The worldwide prevalence of obesity is rising dramatically.It was 5% for men and 8% for women in 1980 and has increased to 11% for men and 15% for women in 2014.
There is also an increase in obesity in young adults. This increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, joint pains, infertility, hypercholesterolemia and also some cancers at a later age.
A study was conducted on US women from the Nurses Health Study and US men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study to evaluate the association of weight gain from early to middle adulthood with health outcomes later in life. The cohorts analyzed in this study included 92, 837 US women in the Nurses' Health Study (1976-June 30, 2012) and 25, 303 US men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-January 31, 2012).
Participants recalled their weight at age 18 years (women) or age 21 years (men) and reported their current weight at age of 55 years. Mean weight gain was 12.6±12.3 kg over the course of 37 years in women and 9.7±9.7 kg over the course of 34 years in men. Participants were also followed from age 55 years for mortality and for development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, cholelithiasis, severe osteoarthritis, and cataracts.It was found that the strongest direct association of weight gain was with type 2 diabetes, followed by cholelithiasis and hypertension. Colorectal cancer was significantly associated with early adulthood obesity, with the greatest risk in men who were overweight during early adulthood and subsequently gained the most weight. Among women, but not in men, moderate weight gain was associated with cholelithiasis and severe osteoarthritis. Higher BMI in early adulthood and subsequent weight gain were independently associated with increased mortality later in life.
The above study and its results make us realize that efforts are to be taken to prevent and control obesity in young adults and should be accorded a high priority.