Weight Weighing Life Down

Obesity impacts life expectancy

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

(RxWiki News) Weight management can be difficult at any age. It is important to achieve and maintain an ideal weight even as we age because life expectancy can decrease with excess weight.

Body mass index (BMI) is a weight indicator. A normal BMI is between 18.5-24.9; overweight is considered 25-29.9 and obese is above 30. Obesity is often associated with other health problems like cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. With that being said, does excess weight cause a shorter life expectancy?

"Lose the excess weight - you will live longer."

Pramil N. Singh, Dr.P.H., an associate professor of epidemiology at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, found that women are not as sensitive to excess weight as men are. Women with a BMI of 27.4 had a 2.1 year shorter life expectancy, while men with a BMI greater than 22.3 had a 3.7 year shorter life expectancy.

The study included over 6,000 adults between the ages 25 to 82 who had never smoked or had history of any chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, cancer or stroke. This study was particularly unique because we had the opportunity to do 29 years of follow up, Dr. Singh says.

Although this study showed that excess weight affected men more, excess weight still shortens the life expectancy for both sexes. So continue to maintain and reach ideal weight for the best possible health outcomes.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Review Date: 
August 15, 2011
Last Updated:
August 17, 2011