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Obesity impacts life expectancy

We all know that carrying excess weight and being obese is bad for your health. I was amazed to find it cuts short life expectancy to the same degree as being a smoker!

An Oxford University study found that common moderate obesity, reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, and severe obesity can cut a persons life by 10 years. A 10 year loss to life expectancy is the same as the impact of being a life long smoker.

The obesity and life expectancy study

The researchers studied 57 long term research studies to follow 900,000 people in Europe and North America. The group tracked for 10 to 15 years was the largest study of its kind to investigate how obesity affects mortality.

The researchers used body mass index (BMI) to assess obesity. The researchers acknowledged that BMI was not a perfect measurement, but useful for a large study to assess fat levels.

What is BMI? You can work out your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by the square of your height in metres (m). A healthy range is 20-25. Obesity is taken to start at a BMI of 30 and severe obesity at 40. My Weight Software displays BMI on its weight chart, and you can see the BMI number for a weight entry in its tooltip.

The study results

From the study of 900,000 men and women the researchers found that those who were:

  • Moderately obese (BMI 30 to 35) the lifespan was reduced by 2 to 4 years.
  • Severe obese (BMI 40 to 50) the lifespan was reduced by 8 to 10 years.
  • BMI of 23 to 24 had the lowest mortality rate.

Researchers conclusions

Being severely obese has a similar effect as lifelong smoking by cutting short life expectancy by 10 years.

The researchers concluded that excess weight shortens lifespan, and avoiding weight gain could add years to your life. The study results were published in The Lancet.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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