Obese men face double the risk of dying prematurely, says a study.
Danish researchers tracked more than 5,000 military conscripts starting at the age of 20 up to the age of 80. They found that at any given age, an obese man was twice as likely to die than one who was not obese and that obesity at the age of 20 had a constant effect on death up to 60 years later.
“As the obesity epidemic is still progressing rapidly, especially among children and adolescents, it is important to find out if obesity in early adulthood has lifelong mortality effects,” said the study leader Esther Zimmermann.
Zimmerman is a researcher at the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
“Previous studies have investigated obesity and mortality in middle-aged populations, which only tell us about the detrimental effects of obesity in middle age,” said Zimmerman.
“Our study sheds light on how obesity at age 20 affects obesity throughout adult life. It is the first study with such a long follow-up time and thus the first study to investigate the lifelong effect,” added Zimmerman.
The study was presented Tuesday at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm.
Researchers compared mortality in a sample of 1,930 obese male military conscripts with that in a random sample of 3,601 non-obese male conscripts, said a Copenhagen University Hospital release.
Body mass index (BMI), a height to weight ratio, was measured at the average ages of 20, 35 and 46 years, and the researchers investigated that in relation to death in the next follow-up period.
A total of 1,191 men had died during the follow-up period of up to 60 years. The results were adjusted to eliminate any influence on the findings from year of birth, education and smoking.
“At age 70 years, 70 percent of the men in the comparison group and 50 percent of those in the obese group were still alive and we estimated that from middle age, the obese were likely to die eight years earlier than those in the comparison group,” Zimmermann said.