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Heavy kids who slim down in adulthood could reduce heart health risks

November 16, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Going from overweight child to normal weight adult could cut health risks, a study finds.
Going from overweight child to normal weight adult could cut health risks,… (Raul Arboleda / AFP/Getty…)

Fat kids often turn into fat adults with a host of related health problems: diabetes, high blood pressure, clogged arteries. But a study finds that if those heavy kids lose weight they may be on a par with people who were never overweight.

A meta-analysis released today in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at weight status and health among 6,328 people who were followed from childhood for an average of 23 years. The study subjects were divided into four categories: those who were normal weight as kids and not obese as adults; those who were overweight or obese as kids but not obese as adults; those who were overweight or obese as kids and obese as adults, and those who were normal weight as kids but obese as adults.

In some studies being overweight in childhood was associated with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high-risk cholesterol levels in adulthood, and in all studies those weights were linked with high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels.

But among children who were overweight or obese as kids who were normal weight by adulthood it was a different story--their risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were similar to people who had a body mass index that was normal throughout their life. However, adults who were obese had more risks, regardless of their weight in childhood. Their risk of developing type 2 diabetes grew by a factor of four compared to normal-weight adults who were overweight or obese as kids.

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