NEW YORK Obese children carry a risk of dying before age 55 years, more than twice that of the thinnest, according to a study published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and other sites examined data on 4,857 nondiabetic Pima and Tohono O’odham Native Americans born between 1945 and 1984, starting from around the age of 11. The researchers chose the two groups because their rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes began increasing before those of the general U.S. population. The researchers then tracked them from childhood to adulthood.
Of the 559 who had died by 2003, diseases or self-inflicted injury – such as alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses – had contributed to the deaths of 166. Those with the highest body mass indexes in childhood were more than twice as likely to have died prematurely than those with the lowest indexes. Meanwhile, those with the highest blood glucose levels had premature death rates 73% higher than those with the lowest.
“Obesity, glucose intolerance, and hypertension in childhood were strongly associated with increased rates of premature death from endogenous causes in this population,” the authors concluded, referring to causes of death related to diseases and self-inflicted injuries. “In contrast, childhood hypercholesterolemia was not a major predictor of premature death from endogenous causes.”