Jared Reis of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said an analysis of data on 3,300 people over a 25-year period found sub-clinical heart disease, such as the buildup of fats inside arteries, starting in young adulthood.
"With about every additional year of obesity, the risk of developing sub-clinical coronary heart disease increased by about 2 percent to 4 percent," Reis said in a statement.
Reis said the risk compounds -- each year's additional risk builds on the base of the previous year's. Controlling weight early in adulthood could have big benefits later, Reis said.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.