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Overweight in Childhood and Adolescence Linked to Increased Risk of Blood Clots


By Holadoctor

Thromboembolic disorders account for one in four deaths worldwide and are a major contributor to lost disability-adjusted life years in young and middle-aged adults. A recent study found that one third of idiopathic venous thromboembolic events (VTE), commonly known as blood clots, are attributable to early obesity.

The paper analyzed 37,672 men from the BMI Epidemiology Study (BEST), a database that contained their body mass index (BMI) in childhood and as young adults. This population was taken from men born between 1945 and 1961, for whom there was information on their BMI at ages 8 and 20. These men were followed for two decades, until December 31, 2019. 

The researchers concluded that young adult overweight was a strong determinant, and childhood overweight a moderate determinant, of the risk of VTE in adulthood.

Excess weight in adulthood is an established risk factor for some of the major conditions underpinning thrombosis, such as arterial hypertension, peripheral arterial disease, coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism (PE), and deep vein thrombosis. 

An increased risk of VTE has been found in adults who had a high body mass index during childhood or late adolescence, and this group of researchers demonstrated that there is an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality and stroke in adults who were overweight during puberty.

High BMI in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood is a global challenge, and it has been shown that the increased prevalence of obesity is more pronounced among children and young people than among adults in some regions of the world. The study points to the need for extended follow-up and large statistical power to evaluate the consequences of overweight and obesity during childhood and adolescence, and its consequences in adulthood. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. These clots usually form in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, but they can also appear in the arm.

The most serious complication of DVT occurs when part of the blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a blockage called a pulmonary embolism. If the blood clot is small, with appropriate treatment, the person can recover from PE. However, it can leave sequelae in the lungs. If the blood clot is large, it can prevent blood from reaching the lungs and is fatal.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, three out of 10 children and adolescents are overweight. The main causes of overweight and obesity in childhood are the consumption of ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks, which are easily accessible, inexpensive, and extensively promoted in the mass media, and a lack of physical activity.

In the United States, one in five children has obesity.

Researchers agree that there is a genetic component that creates a propensity to obesity. However, genetic risk does not account for the increase in childhood obesity observed in recent years. The community in which a child lives also influences his or her weight, since the community can influence the family’s ability to make healthy choices. 

This story was produced using content from the original study or report and from other medical research, as well as health and public health sources, highlighted in related links throughout the article.