Gaining weight in middle age increases the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke by around a quarter, researchers have warned.
The study from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville found that if men and women in their 40s or 50s put on 11lbs, death rates surged by 26%.
The chance of dying from anything increased by 10% for men and 15% for women.
If a middle aged person puts on three stone, their chance of getting an obesity-related cancer goes up by 34% in men and 45% in women. This applied to those with a body mass index (BMI) as low as 23, the Daily Mail reports.
Corresponding author Dr Wei Zheng said the study highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy weight throughout life.
The findings were based on 35,989 men and 48,377 women in China aged 40 to 59 who had been slim in early adulthood.
Weight gain was linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, stroke, gout and gallstones regardless of BMI.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest prospective cohort study that systematically examined the association of weight gain from early to middle adulthood with multiple health outcomes,” Zheng said.