Being obese takes as many years off your life as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, according to researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. In fact, obesity can reduce your life expectancy by almost a decade.
When compared to people who had a healthy weight in a recent study, those who were overweight or obese were two to four times more likely to lose “healthy life-years.”
Using data from a national health and nutrition survey, Canadian researchers developed a model to estimate the annual risk of diabetes and heart disease for adults with different body weights. They also analyzed this data to better understand the role excess body weight plays in lost years of life.
Researchers say that the more a person weighs and the younger their age, the more their health will suffer.
“We knew these things were bad, but nobody had ever tried to really quantify it before,” says lead author Dr. Steven Grover, clinical epidemiologist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. “We took a qualitative observation and actually put some numbers to it.
According to Grover, this study is the first to estimate how many healthy years of life (without diabetes or heart disease) someone would have as a result of having an ideal body weight.
Obesity is dangerous and directly contributes to a wide variety of serious medical conditions, most notably heart disease and diabetes. People who are obese are also at an increased risk of suffering from depression. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that those with obesity aim to lose 5 to 10 percent of their body weight over a six-month period. However, extreme cases may necessitate weight loss surgery.