Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Obesity Risks Increase Over Time

Here's a worrying finding for those of us carrying too much weight. When it comes to weight gain, calculation of obesity risks to your health has focused on the severity of the weight gain on its own, but paid no attention to how long that weight had been hanging around.

Some compelling new research finds that every added decade you are obese doubles your death risk. Just like pack years for a smoker, recent research calls for the "obese year" to become part of any assessment of health for a patient. Researchers believe that the health toll of all those extra pounds is far higher than we know because estimates haven't factored in the duration of a person's obesity. Today the obesity epidemic has gotten tremendous press. Sadly, there are all too many of us who fall on the high side of the BMI scale... over 25.0.

In the U.S., a full third of adults belong to the obese category. In the U.K. the number is a quarter of adults - still significant to be sure and predicted to rise. What's worse, if the current trends continue, obesity will become a prominent health problem for more and more of us the world over. Work by the researchers found that the duration of obesity has a direct impact on death risk. And this is not related to other risk factors such as age or just how heavy a person is. The team examined the health of over 5,000 patients who lived in the U.S. who were enrolled in a study that monitored their health on a two yearly basis over many decades.

Among the subjects, death risk rose by 7% for each added two years of obesity. Being at this weight for 15 to 25 years doubled the death risk, compared to those study participants who had never been obese. Death risk tripled for those classed as obese for longer than 25 years. Now you see why researchers are so concerned... the risk of death for those currently obese might be so much higher than any other time in history. What's more, people are falling into the obese categories at younger ages, which means that kids today might actually expect a shorter lifespan than past generations. Obesity often starts up to 10 years earlier compared to past records. The team of researchers suggests that the number of years you've been obese needs to be considered when doing an assessment of overall health.

If your doctor can tell you the consequences of your extra weight, in terms of how shortened your life will be, this might be enough to get some people on the road to weight loss. But scare tactics don't work for everyone. If they did, losing weight wouldn't be such a struggle for so many. The truth is, losing weight isn't quick... or easy... but it can be done by making small, manageable changes and sticking with them over the long haul. It's also important to understand that losing weight, at any age, will do wonders to help reverse obesity risks, extend your lifespan and leave you with less risk of dangerous, life altering disease.

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