The study findings from large scale clinical trials presented at the last European Obesity Summit in Sweden show that a high body mass index (BMI) in children correlates with an increased risk of developing colon cancer and suffering an early stroke as adults.
According to the authors, children are generally considered obese when their mean BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for others of the same age and sex.
The first study – conducted by researchers from the Institute of Preventive Medicine and Frederiksberg Hospital – adjusted for a child’s age and sex and involved more than 257,623 people.
Dr Britt Wang Jensen and colleagues noted that each unit of increase in mean BMI at age 13 increased the risk of developing colon cancer by 9 per cent and rectal cancer by 11 percent.
In a second study, involving 307,677 Danish people born from 1930 to 1987, the researchers found that deviations from a standard BMI corresponded to a 26 per cent increase in risk of developing a clot-related stroke in early adult life for women and 21 per cent in men.
The results of this study also highlight the potential effects that childhood overweight and obesity has on the early development of atherosclerosis as well as certain other metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes risk factors, such as high blood pressure and insulin resistance.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, obesity most often develops from ages 5 to 6 or during the teen years, and “studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.”
This study further emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy weight in childhood in order to prevent the manifestation of cardiovascular disease, cancer and metabolic disorders.