What you weigh in your teen years can have far-reaching effects on your heart health in the future, suggests new research.

The higher your body mass index (BMI) in your late teens, even if it's well within the normal range, the greater your risk of heart disease decades later, according to a large study published in the April 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For every one unit increase in BMI in the teen years, the study found a 12 percent increase in the risk of heart disease around 20 years later. And, for every one unit increase in BMI, the study found a nearly 10 percent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes, though this risk may largely be related to a higher BMI in adulthood as well.

"For teens with a BMI of 25, the risk of diabetes is about threefold higher than for people with the lowest BMI," said the study's lead author, Dr. Amir Tirosh, a clinical and research fellow in the endocrine division at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

"For cardiovascular disease, the risk was threefold higher at a BMI of 20.9, and sevenfold higher at a BMI of 25 or above," said Tirosh.

A normal BMI is 24.9 or lower; 25.0 is the threshold for being considered overweight.

The risk of later heart disease begins when BMI is well within what's considered the normal range, said Tirosh. "A BMI of 20.9 means a 5'10" male would weigh 146 pounds," he added.

Source: U.S. News & World Report
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diabetes/articles/2011/04/06/teen-weight-affects-later-heart-disease-risk-study