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Obesity can reduce life expectancy by up to 11 years

A recently published study from Washington University School of Medicine, confirms the serious consequences of obesity-related diseases (ORDs) such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey (1997–2000). They collected information regarding age at death and they included gender, race, educational attainment, alcohol consumption, and physical activities in each model. The obesity-associated diseases studied were coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. Study subjects were divided into age groups 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+.

Results showed that the number of life years lost due to ORDs was more marked for younger adults than older adults, for blacks than whites, for males than females, and for the more obese than the less obese. They found that the mean life years lost associated with ORDs for US non-smoking black males aged 40 to 49 years with a BMI >40 was 5.43 years, which translates to a 7.5% reduction in total life years. White males of the same age range and same degree of obesity lost 5.23 life years on average – a 6.8% reduction in total life years, followed by black females (5.04 years, a 6.5% reduction in life years), and white females (4.7 years, a 5.8% reduction in life years). Overall, ORDs increased chances of dying and lessened life years by 0.2 to 11.7 years depending on gender, race, BMI classification and age.

These findings confirm that there are serious risks associated with obesity-associated diseases that can result in a significant reduction in life-expectancy.  Moreover, it seems that certain populations, especially young, obese, black males are at a much higher risk than others.

Dr David Ashton MD PhD
1st July 2013

Source/references: Chang S-H, Pollack LM, Colditz GA (2013) Life Years Lost Associated with Obesity-Related Diseases for U.S. Non-Smoking Adults. PLoS ONE 8(6): http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0066550

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