October 15, 2021
Obesity has many consequences, including conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. But did you know that being obese can also shorten your life expectancy?
According to a 2014 study by Intramural research program– a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health – extreme obesity can reduce life expectancy by up to 14 years.
“The effects of obesity on life expectancy have been very well studied,” says Hans Schmidt, MD, bariatric surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center. âThere is no doubt that it can shorten your lifespan, and in great numbers. If you can lose weight before your organs suffer major damage, it will greatly extend your life. “
The numbers behind obesity
Globally, obesity has almost tripled since 1975, and at least2.8 million people die each year due to being overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has also found that39 million children under 5 were overweight or obese in 2020.
Globally, 44 percent of diabetes, 23 percent of ischemic heart disease and up to 41 percent of certain cancers can be attributed to overweight or obesity, according to the WHO.
âWhat’s devastating about numbers like this is that obesity is treatable,â says Dr. Schmidt. âIt doesn’t have to be like that. “
How much weight do you need to lose?
Losing weight, even just 5 to 10 percent of excess weight, can add years to your life. Not only will you live longer, but you’ll feel better and have fewer health problems.
While it’s entirely possible to lose weight on your own, losing 100 pounds or more can be extremely difficult, says Dr. Schmidt.
âLosing so much weight doesn’t just require a few changes in your diet and routine,â he says. âIt forces you to rethink your whole life and the way you do things. It is not easy to do this without help.
Help, in the form of weight loss surgery, is proven to extend your lifespan.
A study, published in the Lancet in May 2021, found that bariatric surgery was associated with increased life expectancy in severely obese patients. “If the rates of metabolic and bariatric surgery increased worldwide to 3.5% in diabetic patients and 2% in non-diabetics, more than 19 million years of life could be saved,” the study said.
Whether you are losing weight through surgery or on your own, it is never too late to start the weight loss journey.
âA lot of people wait until they’re over 60 to lose weight, and by then you’ve done so much damage to your body and your bones,â says Dr. Schmidt. âIf you wait until your body is damaged, it’s hard to put it back in place. Start now. “
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The material provided by HealthU is intended to be used for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.