Posted on Oct 23, 2019, 6 p.m.
It’s no secret that being overweight or obese is generally unhealthy, but a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity has highlighted just how detrimental it can be suggesting that young adults who are classified as being obese are more likely to die up to 10 years earlier.
An estimated 36.3 million years of life will be lost over the lifetime of present day Australia’s adult population alone due to excess weight and obesity; men are expected to lose 27% more years of life expectancy on average than women, according to researchers at the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney
“We know that excess weight has an impact on your health, but to have excess weight as a young adult is really significant on life expectancy. We are talking about losing up to 10 years of your life,” says lead author Thomas Lung, of the George Institute of Global Health, in a statement.
The expected amount of weight adults will add each year depending on current weight, age, and gender, was calculated by a statistical model, taking into account current life expectancy in Australia along with a higher mortality rate among those who have excess weight. Remaining life expectancy for individuals in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s in four categories ranging from healthy to severely obese was predicted, and the number of years lost in each age group was also calculated for each age group and compared to those with a healthy weight using the statistic model.
While these statistics are based on Australia they can be conceivably applied to other high income countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, or America according to the researchers. Key findings included: men and women in their 20s with average to healthy body weight can expect to live another 57-60 years, while those in the obese category will lose an average of 6 years for women and 8 years for men; and women who are severely obese will lose 8 years and men will lose 10 years; differences among the genders means that men in their 20s will lose 5.6 million years of life due to excess weight and women will lose 3 million years.
Since 1995 in Australia there has been a threefold increase in obesity, these findings are hoped to highlight the urgent need for increased public awareness, education, and support facilities to better combat this increasing public health problem.
“There is the assumption that overweight and obesity is a problem for people in middle age, and that people in their 20s and 30s are in the prime of their lives. Yet currently, only 43% of Australian men in their 20s and 34% in their 30s are in a healthy weight range, which is worrying.” comments co-author Associate Professor Alison Hayes.
“Our model predicts adult obesity prevalence will increase to 35% by 2025. We need to act now and have an obesity prevention strategy targeting adults at all ages and in particular young adults,” Dr. Lung concludes.
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