A recent study affirms that being overweight or obese may cause premature death. An international team found out that men are more at risk than women. The paper published in The Lancet medical journal refutes prior studies in which it was stated that obesity or overweight does not represent a risk to people’s health.
Indeed, the study showed that those having overweight problems are at the risk of dying before turning 70 years old. This possibility grows deeply and steadily if individuals do not treat their obesity problems. Further on, researchers reported that the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness and cancer is increased when it comes to an overweight condition. Scientists collated data on almost four million participants who took part in 239 large studies.
All subjects were from four different continents, to provide standardized results. Surveys were carried out between 1970 and 2015 in 32 countries in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and East and South Asia.
As per lead author Emanuele Di Angelantonio from the University of Cambridge obesity is associated with an unequivocal risk of premature death. People who are overweight or obese lose about ten years of life expectancy on average, and results that represent a one-in-two chance of dying before turning 70.
Researchers divided samples into two different categories according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), ratios of weight-to-height squared and compared data about the number and causes of death in each group. Samples pointed out that subjects with a BMI of more than 25 kg/m2 were at a significant risk of all-cause mortality. Such result is, of course, reversible if obese people achieve weight loss.
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Mortality risks greater in men
According to the study’s results, the risk of dying before the age of 70 rises from 19 percent in healthy weight men to 29.5 percent in the moderately obese group. Concerned with women who are obese or overweight, the probability of premature death rises from 11 % to 14.6 %.
It has been concluded then that men are more at risk of suffering premature death due to overweight or obesity. The mortality risk was three times greater in men as in women. Researchers took into account the World Health Organization (WHO) standards. According to WHO, a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal, 25-29.9 overweight, 30-34.9 moderately obese, 35-39.9 severely obese, and 40 and over morbidly obese.
The team argued that if people with overweight or obesity achieve standard BMI levels, the probability of premature death would decrease one in five in North America, one in seven in Europe, one in 20 in East Asia and one in six in Australia and New Zealand.
Dr. Di Angelantonio argued that the study may finally put an end to the discussion over the association between BMI and obesity. Nevertheless, he considers that his research is one of largest studies of BMI and mortality, and finding might be an open window to deeper investigations involving BMI consequences in people’s health.
Dr. Di Angelantonio referred that the recent study was conducted in much larger terms of both: the number of studies and patients in contrast to the previous ones. Moreover, he explained that his team adopted a much stricter methodology when assessing samples.
“The risk of the message from earlier papers is that being overweight and slightly obese is normal. Actually, it’s not. I think here we are reinforcing this message, and we are reinforcing the need to have public-health measures to try to implement a strategy to reduce body weight,” said Dr Di Angelantonio.
Obesity is just behind Smoking in premature death rates
Considering the findings pointing out obesity as a high-risk mortality cause, study’s co-author Sir Richard Peto, FRS, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University Of Oxford, United Kingdom, said that obesity is second only to smoking as a cause of premature death in Europe and North America.
“Smoking causes about a quarter of all premature deaths in Europe and in North America, and smokers can halve their risk of premature death by stopping. But overweight and obesity now cause about one in seven of all premature deaths in Europe and one in five of all premature deaths in North America,” wrote Peto in a press release.
To avoid the impact of other mortality causes in the findings, researchers did not include former or current smokers in the samples, as well as those having a chronic disease at the beginning of the study, and those who died within the first five years. The final data included 3.9 million adults.
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Source: The Lancet