Study: Obesity can decrease life expectancy by 8 years

The new study also links age with negative health effects associated with obesity

Published December 5, 2014 6:45PM (EST)

                     (<a href=''>warakorn</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(warakorn via Shutterstock)

A new study indicates that obese people can expect to live up to eight years less than their healthy counterparts and 19 fewer years of good health. It found that the earlier someone becomes technically obese, the worse health the individual will likely have.

"The pattern is clear," said Steven Grover, an epidemiologist at McGill University. "The more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health... They have many years ahead of them, during which the increased health risks associated with obesity can negatively impact their lives."

Agence France-Presse reports:

Grover’s team used data from a big US project, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which monitored thousands of people over years, to analyse the risk of early death and ill health among adults of different body weight.

They compared overweight and obese people against people of normal weight in terms of life expectancy.

They also calculated the number of years of good health that each individual could — statistically — expect.

This was defined as being free of cardiovascular disease or diabetes — two diseases that are closely linked with excessive weight.

The estimates applied to people aged between 20 and 79.

The study, published on Friday in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, found that obese people (with a Body Mass Index of 30 to 34.9) lost between .8 and 5.9 years of life expectancy, while the extremely obese (with a BMI of over 35) lost between .9 and 8.4 years of life expectancy.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of all adults over the age of 20 are overweight, while 35.1 percent of all adults are obese.

"These clinically meaningful models are useful for patients, and their healthcare professionals, to better appreciate the issues and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, which we know is difficult for many of us to adopt and maintain," said Grover. 

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Body Mass Index Health Obesity Study