T Nation

Fat, forty and facing death

From “The Times” (London)…

Fat, forty and facing death

By Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

FAT 40-year-olds live an average of three years fewer than they should, the obese lose up to seven years, and overweight smokers die more than 13 years early, according to research published yesterday.

The figures come from the first long-term study to spell out the cost of the growing trend towards obesity, which is believed to be responsible for up to 30,000 premature deaths in Britain every year.

“If you are overweight by your mid-30s to mid-40s, even if you lose some weight later on, you still carry a higher risk of dying,” Dr Serge Jabour, from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, said. “The message is that you have to work early on your weight.”

Researchers in Framingham, Massachusetts, followed 3457 people from 1948 — when they were between 30 and 40 — until 1990, when about half of them had died. Their weight at the start of the study was compared with how long they lived. Overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, obese a BMI greater than 30 (where BMI is mass in kilograms divided by height in metres squared). Being overweight cut life expectancy by more than three years on average, and women who were obese at 40 died seven years earlier than their slimmer contemporaries. Obese men died six years earlier.

The research team, from universities in the Netherlands, concludes in Annals of Internal Medicine: “The smoking epidemic in the Western world is waning; however, a new fear should be the prevalence of obesity in young adult.”

Neville Rigby, from the International Obesity Task Force, said: “Child obesity numbers have gone up between 50 and 100 per cent in the past eight years.”