Teen Obesity as Deadly as Smoking
Study Shows Obese Teens Have Similar Risk for Early Death as Teen Smokers
Implications for Public Health
Earlier studies examining whether being overweight, but not obese, in late
adolescence increases the risk for early death have presented mixed
In the newly reported study, being overweight was strongly linked to an
increased risk for early death. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public
Health came to the same conclusion in a study involving female nurses followed
for many years.
In 2006, the researchers reported that women who were overweight at age 18
had an increased risk for death in middle age.
"More teenagers are overweight than obese, so this finding has very
important implications for public health," Neovius says.
Carolyn Landis, PhD, who heads the Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight program at
Cleveland's Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, agrees, but she adds that
the problem is not limited to teens.
Landis tells WebMD that she sees children as young as 10 who already have type 2 diabetes as a result of being overweight or
"I don't think people really understand how quickly obesity can impact
your health," she says. "Many kids who are obese already have high blood pressure and other
weight-related health problems when they enter school. As a society we need to
take this issue much more seriously."