Thursday, December 18, 2014

Study quantifies how obesity can shorten life span

People with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 lose at least 61/2 years, on average, of expected life span, a study has found. And the toll in years lost rises with the degree of obesity, reaching nearly 14 years for the most obese - those with a BMI above 55, researchers said.

The study found that the reduction in life expectancy associated with being extremely obese was similar to that seen in adults who smoke. And as a person's obesity rises to higher levels, his or her expected life span falls below that of smokers.

The authors aggregated the results of about 20 long-term studies on obesity in the United States, Australia, and Sweden. Their research, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, is believed to be the largest analysis of the health consequences of severe obesity.

Compared with normal-weight peers, the extremely obese are more likely to die early from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Premature deaths from all causes, from injury to chronic lower respiratory infections, were higher in those with severe obesity, the study found. BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; 25 to 29.9 is obese, but not severe.

- Los Angeles Times

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