It’s never too late to get on that treadmill, change your diet and lead a healthier lifestyle. It might seem impossible at first as weight gained during adolescence tends to stick, but a recent report suggests that there is still time to turn things around. According to a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, those who were overweight in college but were able to lose weight in their midlife lowered their risk of contracting heart disease significantly.

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Using data from the Harvard Alumni Health Study, a team of scientists was able to get a hold of medical records of freshmen students who studied at the university from 1916 to 1950. Making use of the data from 19,000 alumni, the researchers embarked on a long study, following these men for decades and taking note of their heart disease risk histories, lifestyle and even their habits among others.

According to the study, being overweight in midlife raises your risk of dying of heart disease by 25 percent while being obese shoots the risk up to 60 percent. Whether the extra pounds the subjects put on during their teenage years had something to do with the high death rate or not remained a mystery until the researchers came across alumni who were able to shed the excess pounds by the time they hit their 50s. These men no longer had such a high risk of dying from heart disease.

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While this presented a whole new way of looking at the relationship of weight and heart disease, it does not mean that teenagers who grow up overweight or obese do not have anything to worry about. The study also supported the belief that students who are a bit on the heavy side today are likely to become heavy adults tomorrow as well. Worse still is the report that men who were obese as freshmen had twice as high a risk of dying from heart disease.

Dr. I-Min Lee, one of the authors of the study and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, put it simply, saying, "Fat kids become fat adults." Unless the adolescents find a way to attain normal weight by the time they reach their 50s, they are highly at risk.

The study, while focused completely on men, can work for women too. Dr. Lee stated that there is no significant difference in the biological effect of obesity on heart disease between men and women. Heart diseases do not discriminate. Lead a healthier lifestyle now.

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(Photo source: sxc.hu)

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