Obesity May Have Similar Effects on Body as Aging
Getting older can bring on health challenges as the body changes, including a weakened immune system, fragile bones, and cognitive decline. Now a new study suggests that obesity predisposes people to acquiring age-related conditions, illnesses, and diseases at a younger age.
For their study, researchers from McGill University reviewed 200 studies that looked at the effects of obesity on the aging of the body. Some of the studies looked at the effects on the cellular level, some at the effects at the genetic level, and some at the effects on the body as a whole.
The researchers found that, in general, obesity reduces life expectancy in men by an average of 5.8 years in men and 7.1 years of age in women after the age of 40. They also found that people who were obese showed the same levels of cognitive decline, loss of mobility, hypertension, and stress as people who were much older. In addition, they found that obesity speeds up the aging of the immune system, which increases susceptibility to influenza.
Obese people were also found to be at a higher risk of sarcopenia, which involves a progressive decline in muscle mass and strength, and is usually associated with aging. They were also found to be at a higher risk of certain diseases that are associated with late-life onset, including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
At a cellular level, obese people had higher rates of cell death and inhibition of the maintenance of healthy cells compared to non-obese people. At the genetic level, obese people had telomeres that were as much as 25% shorter than those of non-obese people.
The study was conducted by researchers from Tufts University. It was published on February 26, 2020 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.