Heavy Living Leads to Shorter Lives

Obese millennials have shorter life spans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It seems like kids these days just live and eat whatever while disregarding health consequences. They don't realize the extra weight now can have a huge impact later like an earlier death.

Researchers are finding that excess weight during young adulthood could predict a shorter lifespan, regardless of whether or not they lose it later.

"Learn the importance of eating and living healthy while you're still young."

Lead author, June Stevens, Ph.D., a nutrition and epidemiology professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that 25-year-olds have a 21 percent change of dying with a higher body mass index (BMI). Even after adjusting for other risk factors like smoking, physical activity and alcohol consumption, the risk of dying increased to 28 percent.

BMI is usually used to measure excess fat that takes into account height and weight. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and above 30 indicates obesity.

It is important that young adults understand the impact excess weight can have on the rest of their life, Stevens warns. One can't make up for the damage by losing the weight later, she adds.

African-American women with higher BMIs at age 25 had an even higher impact compared to white women and men. On the other hand, excess weight on 25-year-old African-American men had little to no impact.

In either case, weight is important and healthy habits should be learned sooner rather than later, says Catherine Loria, a nutritional epidemiologists at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The research is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Review Date: 
August 18, 2011
Last Updated:
August 19, 2011