How is Weight Connected to Longevity?
Think about this: One-third of Americans are obese, and an additional three percent (6.8 million people) qualify as morbidly obese. In a world where sugary, fatty foods are readily available and our lifestyles are more sedentary than ever, obesity rates continue to rise steadily, especially among children. Obesity facts indicate that this trend is more than likely to continue unless we do something to stop it. The effects of obesity are devastating on many levels, from self-esteem to blood pressure. As if that weren't enough, recent research has also shown that obesity has the potential to shorten lifespan by a significant amount. Severe morbid obesity complications are becoming more common as this epidemic becomes more widespread.
Losing Years of Life to Obesity?
We've always known that being overweight or obese isn't healthy, but a recent study by Oxford University came to some startling conclusions about the direct effects of morbid obesity on longevity. The research found that even moderate obesity can reduce life expectancy by three years, while severe obesity can reduce life expectancy by up to ten years—a loss equal to the effects of lifelong smoking.
How is this possible? In simple terms, obesity puts significant additional stress on the body in any number of ways. It would take pages to list all morbid obesity complications. They affect many different parts of the body. Obesity increases the likelihood of developing some types of cancer, gall bladder disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, and respiratory ailments. Obesity can also result in osteoporosis, as the excess weight puts strain on bones. Obesity's main effect, though, is that it almost always causes high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, both of which can lead to heart attacks and stroke. Compared to people of normal weight, people suffering from obesity are three times more likely to have hypertension. In the US, one out of three heart attacks and one out of twelve cancer deaths are caused by obesity. If you are obese, then you're twice as likely to die prematurely than a person of normal weight. With all of staggering morbid obesity statistics, it's easy to see that obesity has a drastic effect on the body.
Obese children are also developing health problems long before their time. Children and teens are developing Type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to afflict only adults. Children who develop obesity at a young age and stay obese through adulthood experience severe health problems at an even younger age than those who are obese only in adulthood.
These obesity facts are sobering, to say the least. If we don't reverse this trend, more of our friends and family will die early, preventable deaths. This is truly an epidemic—but it's not unstoppable. If you're struggling with obesity, diet and exercise are your best weapons. But if those aren't enough, talk to your doctor about drugs like Xenical and Meridia. They can help you lose weight more easily and combat morbid obesity.