Could weight affect your life expectancy?
New research finds that being obese or overweight can shorten your life expectancy by as much as eight years.
Study leaders at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University examined 4,000 individuals to determine if excess body weight contributes to the number of life years lost.
According to the study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology issue, the findings estimated that individuals who were very obese could lose up to eight years of life, obese individuals could lose up to six years and those who were overweight could lose up to three years. The findings also showed that when an individual was diagnosed with diabetes or cardiovascular disease earlier in life, the excess weight could rob them of nearly two decades of healthy life.
“The pattern is clear – the more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health,” said study leader Dr. Steven Grover, clinical epidemiologist. “In terms of life-expectancy, we feel being overweight is as bad as cigarette smoking.”
Overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using height and weight to determine the body mass index (BMI), according to the Center for Disease Control. An adult who is considered overweight has a BMI between 25 and 29.9. While an adult who is considered obese has a BMI of 30 or higher.
Additionally, study leaders have “developed a computer model to help doctors and their patients better understand how excess body weight contributes to reduced life expectancy and premature development of heart disease and diabetes. The model will help personalize information that is relevant and compelling for patients.
Down the road, the research team will be conducting a three year study with community pharmacies across the country to see if engaging patients with this information and offering them a web-based e-health program will help them adopt healthier lifestyles, including healthier diets and regular physical activity.
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