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Obesity Shortens Life Span

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:34 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Obesity, Healthy Living, Overweight, Smoking


IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons / waist circumference / author: Pharos, FDA Dietary Guidelines

A new study in the March issue of the medical journal The Lancet suggests, being obese can take years off your life and in some cases it may be as dangerous as smoking.

University of Oxford researchers and members of the Prospective Studies Collaboration reviewed data on nearly 1 million men and women who participated in 57 studies. The participants were mainly from Western Europe and North America, with an average BMI of 25.

Body Mass Index (BMI), the measure of body fat based on height and weight was used to determine obesity. Death rates were the lowest in people who had a BMI of 23 to 24, on the higher side of the normal range.

For those with a BMI over 25, every extra 10 to 12 pounds translated to about a 30 percent increased risk of death.

A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI over 30 is considered obese, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

People who were moderately overweight, with a BMI from 30 to 35, lost about three years off their expected lifespan. While people who were obese – those with a BMI 40 or higher – lost about 10 years off their life, similar to the effects of lifelong smoking, says Richard Peto, one of the lead researchers and a professor of medical statistics at Oxford University in England.

“If you are obese and you smoke, quit smoking,” says Gary Whitlock, from the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford. “If you are obese and you don’t smoke, don’t start and avoid further weight gain, which very well may give you back a few years of your life."

"Moderate obesity typically shortens life span by an average of three years,” said Whitlock. “By contrast, weighing double your ideal weight – say an extra 150 pounds – shortens life span by 10 years,” he added.

Two-thirds of U.S. adults are considered overweight or obese. A recent study in the journal of Obesity says all American adults may become overweight in forty years if the current weight trends continue unchanged.

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and even some cancers. #

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