New Year Comes With Bad News About Obesity Epidemic


By: Daniel Trecroci

On January 1, 2003, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report on the state of America’s waistlines.

The news was not good!

Obesity prevalence increased 5.6 percent from 2000 to 2001, and diabetes prevalence increased 8.2 percent.

According to the report, 20.9 percent of all U.S. adults are now considered obese. In addition, 7.9 percent of U.S. adults have diabetes.

The researchers arrived at these numbers after a random-digit telephone survey of 195,005 adults ages 18 years or older residing in all states. These subjects participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2001.

Journal of the American Medical Association, January 1, 2003

If you are 40 years old and obese, researchers warn that your life expectancy is significantly decreased compared to normal-weight people in the United States.

In the Framingham Heart Study, conducted between 1948 and 1990, life expectancy and the probability of death before age 70 were analyzed in 3,457 volunteers who were 30 to 49 years old at the study’s beginning.

The researchers discovered that a 40-year-old, nonsmoking, obese female loses 7.1 years of her life and a 40-year-old, nonsmoking obese male loses 5.8 years of his life compared to normal-weight, nonsmoking women and men.

If you are an obese female smoker, you are predicted to live 13.3 years less than a normal-weight, female nonsmoker. The life expectancy for obese male smokers is 13.7 years less than for normal-weight, nonsmoking men of the same age.

Annals of Internal Medicine, January 7, 2003

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine also confirm that obesity appears to significantly lessen life expectancy, especially among younger people.

The greatest decrease in life expectancy was noted among young African-American men with a body mass index (BMI) of 45 or greater, who can expect to lose 20 years of life. For young African-American women who are obese, life expectancy is decreased by five years.

Among young white people who are obese, life expectancy is decreased by 13 years for men and eight years for women.

“For men. this could represent a 22 percent reduction in expected remaining life span,” write the researchers.

BMI is a height-to-weight ratio. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

Journal of the American Medical Association, January 8, 2003



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