Being obese can cut your life expectancy by eight years, and deprive you of 19 years of good health, according to new estimates based on sophisticated computer modelling.
Both overweight and obese people have poorer chances of living longer because of an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Researchers in Canada used data from national surveys in the USA to create a disease-simulation model that estimated the risk of developing health problems in adults of different body weights.
They found that overweight individuals – those with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 – could lose up to three years’ life expectancy. For the obese, with a BMI of 30 to 35, up to six life years were lost on average and the severely obese, with a BMI of 35 or more, could lose up to eight years.
Life expectancy was lowered most significantly for the young.
Dr Steven Grover, professor of medicine at McGill University, Montreal, who led the study, said that the calculations would be useful to demonstrate to doctors and their patients the risks they were taking by being overweight or obese.
“These clinically meaningful calculations should prove useful for obese individuals and health professionals to better appreciate the scale of the problem and the substantial benefits of a healthier lifestyle including changes to diet and regular physical activity,” he said.
The study is published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal today.
Nearly two thirds of adults in the UK are overweight, and one in four were classified obese in 2012, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Responding to the study, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) urged people to see their GP if they were worried about the effect their weight was having on their health.
“The results of this study put the health consequences of being overweight in terms we can all understand,” said Maureen Talbot, BHF’s senior cardiac nurse.Reuse content