Currently, the fight against obesity around the world is yielding very modest results. Scientists predict that the obesity epidemic will worsen in the coming years. Experts believe that changes are required in mass prevention of this problem. For example, it should be clarified which groups of people have the greatest risk of gaining weight.
Today’s health policy is based on studies that highlight the high prevalence of obesity among middle-aged people (40-59 years). However, they do not take into account the dynamics of weight gain at different ages. At the same time, some works showed that young people get fat most of all.
In a new study, the researchers clarified at what age the body mass index, an indicator that is used to diagnose obesity, changes most. To calculate it, the weight in kilograms is divided by the square of the height in meters. BMI 25-30 indicates overweight, more than 30 – obesity.
The study authors analyzed data from 400 UK primary care facilities. They contained information on the ten-year dynamics of BMI change for more than 1 million people aged 18 to 74 years. The study covered the period from 1998 to 2016.
It turned out that people with normal weight at the age of 18-24 years within 10 years begin to suffer from obesity 4.2 times more often than people from the older age group (65-74 years). The transition from excess weight to obesity in younger people occurs 4.6 times more often, and the likelihood of developing severe obesity with the first degree of obesity is 5.9 times higher.
“Young people go through great life changes. They can start working, go to university, leave home for the first time. The habits they develop over the years can stay with them. For a serious approach to obesity prevention, we must develop interventions that target and suit young people, ”said Claudia Langenberg of the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study.
According to the data obtained in this study, gender, socioeconomic factors and nationality played a lesser role in the ten-year risk of obesity than age.
Based on the results, scientists have created a calculator that predicts the risk of obesity based on age, gender, social status and current BMI. It is available online in English.