In a study released earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its subsidiary, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), found that adults who belong in the class III category of obesity (those with a BMI of 40.0 or higher) have an increased risk of dying at a younger age than those with lower BMIs.While this may not come as a surprise to some of you, little had been known about the risks of premature death in association with extreme obesity before this study.
Findings revealed that the leading causes of premature death among those with extreme obesity were cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney and liver diseases. These results were pooled from 20 studies of people from three countries (United States, Sweden, and Australia).
This study is important and relevant in all of our lives because the prevalence of class III obesity is on the rise all over the world, especially in the United States where this study was conducted (almost 6% of American adults are now classified as extremely obese). Researchers found a strong correlation with increased chances of early mortality with higher BMIs; the higher the BMI, the higher the risks.
Years of life lost ranged from “6.5 years for participants with a BMI of 40-44.9 to 13.7 years for a BMI of 55-59.9”. This has profound implications for people that find themselves within those BMIs: they need to get help now or risk dying, at a minimum, six and a half years earlier! To give a better understanding, being morbidly obese is worse for your health than having smoked a pack a day for your entire life with a normal weight.
While there may be some clinical errors to be found within the study: height and weight were mostly self-reported (and if natural tendencies are to be believed, many respondents are hesitant to reveal their true measurements if the study is not done anonymously), as well as with the Body Mass Index format being the sole measurement of obesity (there might be other scales of obesity that do not go by BMI). Nevertheless, the results show that rising levels of obesity is definitely something to be concerned about. It seems as if our society has reached a point where obesity related diseases may become one of the leading causes of death.
Written by Guillaume Lapointe-Gagner