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Obesity Linked to Shorter Life Expectancy

Being overweight or even obese is becoming increasingly common worldwide, and is resulting in an increase in obesity related diseases. Now a recent study has found that being overweight or obese could shorten a person’s lifespan by up to eight years.

For their study, researchers developed a disease-simulation model in order to estimate the annual risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality for people with a BMI of 25-30 kg/m2(overweight), 30 - 35 kg/m2 (obese), and higher than 35 kg/m2 (very obese). For their model, they used data from 3,992 non-Hispanic white participants in the National Nutrition and Examination Survey, which took place from 2003 to 2010.

After validating their model projections, the researchers estimated the years of life lost and healthy life-years lost associated with each category. They found that the effect of excess weight on life lost was most noticeable in younger people and that it decreased with increasing age.

Specifically, obese men lost between 0 and 8 years of their lives if they were between the ages of 60 and 79 and 5 to 9 years if they were between the ages of 20 to 39. Very obese men lost between 0 and 9 years if they were between the ages of 60 and 79 and 7 to 10 years if they were between the ages of 20 and 39. Men who were just overweight showed smaller losses. Similar results were noted for women.

The researchers also found that healthy life-years lost were as much as two to four times higher than total years of life lost across all of the groups.

Researchers from McGill University conducted the study. It was published on December 5, 2014, in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Obesity has a far ranging negative effect on health. Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.

Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.

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