A study published in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that the number of premature deaths directly linked to obesity between 1986 and 2006 is three and a half times greater than previously estimated.
Prior reports estimated that 5% of premature deaths during that time period were linked to obesity. But, according to the new study, the percentage is actually 18.2%. The researchers consisted of a team of sociologists led by demographer Ryan K Masters of Columbia University; they factored in data according to gender and ethnicity and combined it with mortality risk estimates for that time period.
In response to the staggering numbers, researchers determine that if the obesity pandemic remains unchecked, life expectancy could actually lower over the coming decades. Specifically, i obese adults born in the 1970s and 1980s could have a lower life expectancy than the generation before it.
The results of an earlier study reflect this changing demographic over the last half century. Dr. Earl S Ford and colleagues of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion examined 23,000 adults aged 20 and older from 1998-2008 who participated in the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In 1999-2000, 27% of the men in the study were obese; 39% had abdominal adiposity. By 2008, those percentages rose to 32% and 34% respectively.
33% of the women were obese at the beginning of the study, that percentage increased to 35% by 2008. Abdominal adiposity in female participants rose from 56% in 1999 to 62% in 2008.
In stark contrast only 13% of American adults were obese in the early 1960s.
Dr. Ford states that in order to drive the obesity levels down to what they were in the early 60s, the average American would need to radically change both eating and exercise habits by consuming 500 calories less per day and walking 2 hours most days of the week.