The researchers wanted to find out if children with obesity also have a higher risk of premature death in early adulthood as well as if children with obesity are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than other children. In the first study in the journal PLOS Medicine, the researchers showed that people with obesity in childhood have a three times higher risk of dying in early adulthood than a comparison group from the general population.
The study included about 7,000 individuals who received obesity treatment at some point between the ages of 3 and 17. They were matched with some 34,000 people of the same age, gender and area of residence. A total of 39 people (0.55 per cent) in the childhood obesity group died during the average follow-up period of 3.6 years compared with 65 (0.19 per cent) in the control group. The average age at the time of death was 22 years.
According to the researchers, possible explanations for the findings may be that childhood obesity has been linked to somatic diseases such as diabetes, liver disease and high blood pressure.