Decreased Life Span in Obese Worse than Originally Feared

Posted April 3rd, 2009 by Site Administrator in Uncategorized (No Comments »)

By Alisa Johnson

According to as Associated Press article, “Study: Being obese can take years off your life”, an Oxford University study on obesity has proved obesity can cause premature death and could be as bad for you as cigarette smoking.  The results of this study are the culmination of multiple studies—fifty-seven, to be exact—of almost one million people over a minimum of ten years. 

During that time span, approximately 1/10 of the multi-study participants lost their battles with obesity.

The study used the Body Mass Index (BMI) as the guideline for benchmarking, which uses height and weight proportionality to establish whether an individual is underweight, overweight, or at a healthy weight.  Interestingly, those with the lowest “healthy” BMIs were not those with the lowest mortality. 

Those on the higher end of the healthy range (BMI 23 or 24) fared far better and had the fewest deaths of any group.  According to the index, individuals with a BMI of 25 to 29 are considered overweight and anyone with a BMI over 30 is obese.

According to the article, researchers “found that people who were moderately fat, with a BMI from 30 to 35, lost about three years of life.  People who were morbidly fat—those with a BMI above 40—lost about 10 years off their expected lifespan, similar to the effect of lifelong smoking.  And moderately obese people were 50 percent more likely to die prematurely than normal-weight people, said Gary Whitlock, the Oxford University epidemiologist who led the study.”

What’s really disconcerting is that obese people were 2/3 more likely to die from heart attack or stroke.  They also were four times more likely to die from diabetes kidney or liver problems and were 1/6 more likely to develop and die from cancer.

This is the gravest data to come from any previous obesity study.  Even a small change in a person’s BMI can be life-changing; a significant change in BMI can be catastrophic.  It is unfortunate that, although we have the information available to us about the risks of obesity and how to lose weight and have a healthy life, few choose to heed the advice of experts.

According to the findings in the study, "obesity is the new dark horse for public health officials.  People need to be aware of the risks they’re taking when they gain weight."


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