Teenage obesity increases risk of blood clots

Teenage obesity increases risk of blood clots

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Blood clots from obesity - men at risk as teenagers

Late teenage obesity increases the risk of developing a blood clot (thrombus) in the leg or lungs in men. This risk increases gradually and is highest in men who were severely obese in adolescence.

The University of Gothenburg's recent investigation found that men with a history of obesity in their late teenage years are at higher risk of developing a blood clot (thrombus). The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of Internal Medicine" (JIM).

Effects of obesity as a teenager

Overweight and obesity should generally be avoided at any age to prevent the development of many diseases. Of course, this applies to both women and men. But men in particular increase their risk of developing a blood clot (thrombus) in the leg or lungs if they suffer from obesity in their late teens. This risk increases with increasing obesity and is highest among those who were severely obese in adolescence.

How common is venous thromboembolism?

A thrombus in one leg or in the lungs is called venous thromboembolism. This is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases. The risk increases with age. In total, five to ten percent of the population will be affected by the disease at some point in their lives. The disease is potentially fatal, but its severity varies.

Where did the evaluated data come from?

The current study is based on data from 1,639,838 men who registered for military service in Sweden from 1969 to 2005. Their average age when called up for military service was just over 18 years. Patient and cause of death registries of these participants were analyzed for the study.

Relationship between BMI and thrombus risk

During the follow-up period with an average duration of 28 years, a blood clot in the leg or lungs was found in just over one percent (n = 18,665) of the study participants. The researchers found that there was a clear connection between the body mass index (BMI) at the time of recruitment and the subsequent risk of thrombus.

How did mild obesity or obesity affect you?

A gradual increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism was also observed in the middle and upper part of the normal BMI range (20 to 25) compared to the lower part of the normal range (18.5 to 20). Thereafter, the risk increased further in the obese group and the group with severe obesity, which included more than 36,000 of the study participants.

Severe obesity almost quintuples the risk of blood clots

In the group of men with obesity (BMI 30 to 35), the relative risk was 2.93 - more than twice as high as in the reference group of the study. In people with severe obesity, the corresponding relative risk was as high as 4.95, which meant an almost five-fold risk of blood clots in the leg or lungs during the follow-up period.

Limitations of previous investigations

So far, the relationship between venous thromboembolism and obesity has been investigated, especially in population groups in which the BMI was measured relatively late in life. In the meantime, the participants may have developed diseases related to obesity, such as certain types of cancer, which also affect their risk of thrombus.

Underestimated risk of obesity

As a result, there is a risk that the risk of obesity is underestimated. Since obesity and severe obesity are unfortunately becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents, it is becoming increasingly important to examine the associated long-term risks closely, the researchers report.

Results are likely to apply to women as well

Although the current study only applies to men, the research group believes that the patterns and associations found are likely similar in women. The researchers have previously carried out studies on obesity and other diseases such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure and cardiomyopathy. Similar patterns were observed in both men and women in these studies. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • K. Glise Sandblad, S. Jern, M. Åberg, J. Robertson, K. Torén et al .: Obesity in adolescent men increases the risk of venous thromboembolism in adult life; in: Journal of Internal Medicine (published April 27, 2020), JIM

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