NEW YORK, NY / The New York Times / Research / Health / June 1, 2010
Risks: Obesity Is Found to Take Toll After Age 40
By RONI CARYN RABIN
Obesity increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses, but a surprising new finding suggests it may not affect one’s health until after age 40.
The study compared medications taken by normal weight, overweight and obese Americans ages 25 to 70 who participated in National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1988-1994 and 2003-6. The surveys included 8,880 men and 9,071 women.
While obese people of all ages took slightly more medications than those of normal weight, the differences were mainly among adults 40 and older, according to the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity.
For example, 28.7 percent of obese men and 25.2 percent of normal weight men ages 25 to 39 took medications. But among those 40 to 54, 60 percent of obese men were on medication, compared with 39.3 percent of men of average weight.
The differences in medications taken by normal weight adults and those considered merely overweight were small at all ages, the researchers found.
Brant Jarrett, a graduate student who was the study’s lead author, said one message from the paper was that body mass index, the formula used to assess weight status, is an imperfect measure. “It’s not the best measure in terms of risk factors or current health,” he said.
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