Eleven pounds of extra weight increased risk for major chronic diseases
Gaining a small amount of weight each year during early and middle adulthood can add up to major health risks later in life, a large cohort study found.
From early adulthood to age 55, U.S. women in the study gained an average of 27.8 lbs, and men gained an average of 21.4 lbs, reported Frank Hu, MD, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues.
A gain of as little as 11 lbs during that time was associated with significantly increased risk for major chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Weight gain during adulthood was also associated with increased mortality risk, they wrote in JAMA.
The investigators found that, compared with maintaining a stable weight, each 5 kg (11 lbs) of weight gain during early and middle adulthood was linked with increases in risk for the following:
► Type 2 diabetes: 31% (incident rate ratio 1.31, 95% CI 1.28-1.33)
► Hypertension: 14% (IRR 1.14; 95% CI 1.10-1.17)
► Cardiovascular disease: 8% (IRR 1.08; 95% CI 1.08-1.09)
► Obesity-related cancer: 6% (IRR 1.06; 95% CI 1.02-1.09)
► Mortality: 5% (IRR 1.05; 95% CI 1.04-1.07)
In addition, each gain of 5 kg was associated with a 17% decrease in the odds of healthy aging (IRR 0.83, 95% CI 0.77-0.89), a composite outcome defined as no self-reported physical limitations, cognitive decline, or history of diseases including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson disease, and multiple sclerosis.
"Our study is the first of its kind to systematically examine the association of weight gain from early to middle adulthood with major health risks later in life," Hu said in a statement. "The findings indicate that even a modest amount of weight gain may have important health consequences."
Hu's group analyzed data from 118,140 study participants, including 92,837 women in the Nurses' Health Study from 1976 to 2012, and 25,303 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from 1986 to 2012. Participants in both cohorts completed a baseline questionnaire on lifestyle and medical history that included self-reported height and weight in early adulthood (age 18 for women, 21 for men).