A new study, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that up to 37 per cent of males and 44 per cent of females could be obese by 2020 and that, as a result, the young adult population is likely to experience more heart attacks, a greater incidence of chronic chest pain, and a higher premature death rate.
Lead author Dr Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, assistant professor in medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, warned: "Our study suggests that more of these young adults will have heart disease when they are 35 to 50 years old, resulting in more hospitalisations, medical procedures, need for chronic medications, missed work days and shortened life expectancy."
According to Dr Bibbins-Domingo, the study highlights the importance of preventing childhood obesity.
"The current high rate of overweight is not just a problem for adolescents and their parents, it's something that will affect all of us well into the future," she claimed.
Government statistics suggest that 22 per cent of English men and 24 per cent of women were classified as obese in 2005 and projections suggest that these figures could rise to 60 per cent and 50 per cent respectively by 2050.