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Risks of Weight Gain and the Need for Early Prevention
It's easier to recognize a problem once the evidence becomes overwhelming. Certainly denial and a few other defense mechanisms can keep the blinders on for a long time, but denial can eventually be broken, and then comes the truth.
My weight gain was gradual. I did not wake one morning and weigh in at over 200 pounds, after having gone to bed the night before at 135 pounds. Obesity has a pattern of Roman influence, in that it is built one pound at a time.
Gaining a few pounds does not set off alarm bells. But many grow to become, as I felt, the elephant in the room— a big and bold subject that is seldom acknowledged. Now, research has shown that even before things get out of hand, weight gain of any kind carries risks.** Any Weight Gain Carries Risks**
A new study from the University of Oulu in Filand, has found that even young normal weight adults who have an increase in body mass index are at increased risk for cardiovascular and other diseases.
A sample of 12,664 young adults was tested for 32 gene variants that were known to be associated with a higher BMI. After compiling all of the variants a person had, the researchers would assign them a gene score. The results showed that higher gene scores shared a direct relationship with elevated BMI and a number of blood indications of metabolic risk. This means that higher BMI can cause increases in cardiovascular risk independent of eating fatty foods, lack of exercise, and smoking.
[The Benefits of Bariatric Surgery for Severely Obese Adolescents** ]Additionally, metabolic profiles of 1,488 subjects done after 6 years showed that an increase in BMI led to adverse metabolic changes. However, the data refected "favorable" changes in those who had enaged in even just modest weight loss.**** Stay Ahead of the Problem**
Another team of researchers at the University of Southampton worked to assess the effects of five early-life risk factors associated with childhood obesity. For their study, they used 991 mother and child pairs who took part in the Southhampton Women's Survey. The risk factors under examination were obesity, excess weight gain, smoking and low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy, and breastfeeding of less than one month after birth.
Here's what the researchers found:
- Only 15 percent of the children in the study had no early-life risk factors
- 33 percent had one
- 30 percent had two
- 16 percent had three
- 6 percent had four or five
At age four, the children with four or five risk factors had a 19 percent higher fat mass and were 3.99 times more likely to be overweight or obese than those who had no risk factors. Then at age six, researchers notes those same children who had four or five risk factors now had a 47 percent higher fat mass. Also, compared tot he children who originally had no risk factors, these children were 4.65 times more likely to be overweight or obese.
The results from childhood obesity can be dangerous. One 2007 survey of children aged 5 to 17 found that about 70 percent who were obese had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers recommend that prevention strategies start earlier. They say the keys could be maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking, even before one becomes pregnant.
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