You know that being obese is not healthy. But do you know how much (good) life in years you will lose from it?
“As Long As I Can Make Do”
When you’re 200 lbs and get out of breath from walking down a street fast (or at least attempting to), you know something’s not quite right with your health.
But you get used to the sound of blood rushing in your ears and the mighty thumps your stressed heart produces.
Yet every laborious beat is another mark on the big tally that comes at and before y0ur (literal) end.
The Younger You Are, The Worse It Will Be
Researchers from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, put together a computer model that calculated how excess body weight affects your life quality and expectancy.
They fed their computer the vital stats of about 4,000 people and the silicon conglomerate spit out some worrying numbers. Compared to people of normal weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9)…
- very obese people (BMI 40 or greater) lose up to 8 years life expectancy
- obese individuals (BMI 30 – 39.9) say bye to 6 years
- and overweight persons (BMI 25 – 29.9) suffer a loss of 3 years
In general, the researchers say, the effect is worse the earlier you have a weight problem. A very obese man between age 20 to 39 on average loses 8.4 life years, while in the 60 to 79 group it’s 0.8 years.
And There’s The “Good” Years lost
And this is just the amount of time you’ll die earlier. We didn’t yet mention the quality of the years that come before.
If you are between 20 and 39 at the time you are very obese, you lose up to 19 healthy years. Meaning you don’t only have the prospect of dying 8 years earlier, you also have the potential of 19 fewer years where you can enjoy life without being affected by disease or illness.
That’s 27 good years lost to either being sick or, well, stone-cold dead.
Those “only” overweight or obese lose between double to four times the number of healthy years they lose in total years of life.
Change Is Possible
The study’s lead author, Dr. Steven Grover, summarizes it matter-of-factly:
The pattern is clear. The more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health, as they have many years ahead of them during which the increased health risks associated with obesity can negatively impact their lives. […] In terms of life expectancy, we feel being overweight is as bad as cigarette smoking.
This was what I started experiencing back before I lost weight. Increased heart rate, blood pressure and a heart attack looming on the horizon. I’m not sure I’d still be here today if I didn’t make a course correction.
Maybe it’s food for thought for you too.
Picture courtesy of Kyle May.