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Study: In time, most will become overweight

Associated Press
Published October 4, 2005


BALTIMORE - A new study that followed Americans for three decades suggests that over the long haul, nine of 10 men and seven of 10 women will become overweight.

Even if you are one of the lucky few who made it to middle age without getting fat, don't congratulate yourself - keep watching that waistline.

Half of the men and women in the study who had made it well into adulthood without a weight problem ultimately became overweight. A third of those women and a quarter of the men became obese.

"You cannot become complacent, because you are at risk of becoming overweight," said Ramachandran Vasan, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University and the study's lead author.

He and other researchers studied data gathered from 4,000 white adults older than 30. Participants were between the ages of 30 and 59 at the start, and were examined every four years. By the end of the study, more than one in three had become obese.

The study defined obesity as a body mass index, which is a commonly used height and weight comparison, of more than 30.

The findings, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine , show obesity may be a greater problem than indicated by studies that look at a cross-section of the population at one point in time.

Those so-called snapshots of obesity found about six in 10 are overweight and about one in three are obese, Vasan said.

The research subjects were the children of participants in the long-running and often-cited Framingham Heart Study, which has been following the health of generations of Massachusetts residents.

Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which supported the study, said the findings show "we could have an even more serious degree of overweight and obesity over the next few decades."

Susan Bartlett, an assistant professor of medicine and an obesity researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the study was one of the first to look at the risk of becoming overweight. "The results are pretty sobering, really," said Bartlett, who was not involved in the research.

[Last modified October 4, 2005, 02:15:30]


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