What long-term complications of obesity are seen in adults who were obese in childhood or adolescence?

Updated: Feb 20, 2019
  • Author: Steven M Schwarz, MD, FAAP, FACN, AGAF; Chief Editor: Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP  more...
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Answer

For many years, complications arising from obesity were considered unusual in childhood. However, a plethora of minor and major problems may arise in children and adolescents with obesity; most of these problems have considerable impact on quality of life, and some may reduce life expectancy.

Childhood and, especially, adolescent obesity is predictive of adult obesity, which is associated with an increased incidence of diabetes, hypertension, gallstones, and hypercholesterolemia. [1] Pulmonary consequences observed in children and adolescents include an increased frequency of reactive airways, poor exercise tolerance, increased work of breathing, and increased oxygen consumption. The few people who develop obesity-hypoventilation syndrome experience right-sided heart failure with right ventricular hypertrophy.

From an analysis of 4 prospective cohort studies, data suggest that overweight or obese adults who were also obese as children are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and carotid-artery atherosclerosis. However, obese children who achieved a normal BMI by adulthood realized similar risks of these outcomes to individuals who were never obese. [17]


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