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Greater risks of teenagers developing diabetes from weight gain during puberty

Teenagers’ tendency to put on weight at puberty has been linked to a sudden drop in the calories burnt while resting, in a new study.
teenagers developing diabetes

Teenagers tendency to put on weight at puberty has been linked to a sudden drop in the calories burnt while resting, in a new study.

When girls and boys reach puberty there is a rapid drop in calories burned, which is counter-intuitive as calories burned could be expected to rise with the growth spurt.

But the study found that 15-year-olds use between 400 to 500 fewer calories while resting each day than at age 10 a fall of about a quarter.

University of Exeter Medical School researchers also found that teenagers exercise less during puberty, especially girls whose activity levels fall by about a third between the ages of 7 and 16.

1 in 5

born in the UK in 2000 were obese by the age of 11

...

Teenagers’ tendency to put on weight at puberty has been linked to a sudden drop in the calories burnt while resting, in a new study.

When girls and boys reach puberty there is a rapid drop in calories burned, which is counter-intuitive as calories burned could be expected to rise with the growth spurt.

Teenagers
Activity levels drop in teens as obesity rises. Photo: iStock

But the study found that 15-year-olds use between 400 to 500 fewer calories while resting each day than at age 10 – a fall of about a quarter.

University of Exeter Medical School researchers also found that teenagers exercise less during puberty, especially girls whose activity levels fall by about a third between the ages of 7 and 16.

1 in 5

born in the UK in 2000 were obese by the age of 11

Professor Terry Wilkin of the University of Exeter Medical School said: ‘Child obesity and associated diabetes are both among the greatest health challenges of our time. Our findings can explain why teenagers gain excess weight in puberty, and it could help target strategies accordingly.’

The study was carried out over 12 years from 2000 to 2012. Data was gathered from 350 schoolchildren in Plymouth. Every six months the 5 to 16 year olds had blood taken to assess metabolic health. Body measurements were done and metabolic rate and physical activity was logged.

The study aimed to explore why so many young people are at risk of developing diabetes. One in five children born in 2000 is expected to develop type 2 diabetes, largely due to excess weight.


Mostazir M et al (2016) Evidence for energy conservation during pubertal growth: a 10-year longitudinal study. International Journal of Obesity. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.248

 

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