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Adolescent BMI Emerges as Primary Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Large-scale Study

A nationwide cohort study involving over 1 million men reveals that body mass index (BMI) during adolescence is a significant predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adulthood, outweighing the impact of other factors.

A groundbreaking study conducted in Sweden has shed light on the relationship between adolescent cardiovascular risk factors and the future development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adulthood. The study, which included more than 1 million men, found that factors such as body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and handgrip strength during late adolescence were associated with CVD later in life.

Key Findings:

  • The study, spanning several decades, involved a cohort of 1,138,833 men, including 463,995 full brothers.
  • Notably, a high BMI emerged as the most significant individual risk factor for future CVD, even after adjusting for genetic and environmental factors shared by full siblings.
  • Other risk factors, such as cardiorespiratory fitness and handgrip strength, showed varying degrees of attenuation in their association with CVD when familial factors were considered.
  • The findings emphasize the crucial role of combating the obesity epidemic for effective CVD prevention.

Implications for Public Health: The study’s results suggest that public health initiatives should prioritize strategies aimed at preventing and addressing obesity among adolescents. Even modest improvements in BMI during adolescence could lead to substantial reductions in CVD cases later in life. While cardiorespiratory fitness and other factors still play a role, the study highlights the overarching importance of tackling the obesity crisis to curb the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases globally.

Credit: JAMA Network Open