A new study shows that obesity and its health related consequences such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease may lose up nearly eight years of lifetime. The study was conducted by a Canadian research team and published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal on December 5.
The researchers said they managed to design a computer program that helped them estimate how obesity and overweight reduced life expectancy by premature development of coronary disease and type 3 diabetes. The team also hopes that their new computer model will also help doctors and their patients to have a clearer view on this topic.
“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,”
Dr. Steven Grover, lead author of the study and professor of medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, said.
In the study, researchers analyzed clinical data gathered during the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2010 to provide a model that could estimate the average risk of heart disease and diabetes obese people face every year. The national survey collected data from about 4.000 non-Hispanic people.
Also, researchers used clinical data to create a computer model that would help them calculate how many years in life and how many health years an obese person would lose. The computer estimated that very obese individuals (35 kg/m2 and higher) risk to lose about 8 years of life, obese individuals (30—35 kg/m2) risk to lose 6 years, while overweight people risk to lose close to 3 years. Also, obese and overweight individuals could lose two to four times more healthy years of life than people with a normal weight (18.5-25 BMI).
The study also reveals that excess weight influenced the number of life-years lost proportionally to participants’ age. Younger people are at risk of losing more years of their life than older adults. Obese people aged 60-79 risked 3.7 to 5.3 life-years to be lost, while young severely obese people (between 20 and 39) risked losing 6.1 to 8.4 life-years to obesity. Obese seniors in their sixties and seventies risked losing only one year of life.
Looking at these numbers, researchers now believe that obesity is as harmful as smoking for a person’s life expectancy.
“The pattern is clear – the more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health. In terms of life-expectancy, we feel being overweight is as bad as cigarette smoking,”
Dr Grover said.