Obesity now second biggest killer and kills more men Print

Men are more likely than women to die prematurely from being overweight or obese.

A survey conducted across 32 countries and taking in nearly 4 million people highlighted the trend that being overweight (or underweight) increases the chances of dying early. Obesity is now the second highest cause of premature death in Europe with smoking still the

Being overweight is usually defined As having a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9.


The study set out to analyse the effect BMI had on likelihood of death without other factor such as smoking or existing diseases. The study found that in Europe 1 in 7 (14%) premature deaths could be prevented if people were a healthy weight rather than overweight or obese.
It also found that overweight men were more likely to die early than overweight women.

This does not mean however, that overweight or obese people will die early just that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to die earlier.

 

There are other factors that need to be taken into account such as exercise, diet, environment, social status and ethnicity that can have an effect on people's risk, as well as their BMI.
The research does pretty much confirm it is not possible to be "fat and fit" as some have claimed in the past and demonstrates the importance a healthy weight plays in living a long and healthy life.

Over 500 researchers from 32 countries worked on the study. Researchers from the University of Cambridge co-ordinated it supported by grants from
organisations such as Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.The study has been published in the The Lancet and is free to read online.

 

This large group of researchers analysed data about people’s BMI and mortality but excluded people who had ever smoked, had a chronic illness or died in the first five years of the research. They then worked out the chances of dying during the research for people in nine different BMI groups ranging from very underweight to very obese.

The data used was standardised to ensure all results were comparable and included Age, sex, weight and height from the general population.

 

They didn't include anyone who had smoked or had a chronic illness because this can have an effect on people's BMI and can effect the results. For example, people who smoke often have a lower BMI, but are at increased risk of dying early, so that can skew the effect of them having a higher BMI.

Researchers used information from 3.95 million people. The study showed people with a BMI of 20 to 25 had the lowest chance of death. People with a BMI lower or higher than 20 to 25 had an increased chance of death. For every additional five BMI points there is a 39% increase in risk of death although the risk was slightly lower in the US and Australia.

It was particulalrly notable that men had a higher risk of death from every additional five BMI points than women and the risk of death increased at younger ages. The increased relative risk of death for every additional five BMI points over 25 was 52% for people aged 35 to 49 but 21% for people aged 70 to 89.


Deaths from heart disease and stroke increased strongly for people with a BMI over 25, and death from cancer was increased moderately.
The amount of excess deaths that might be attributed to overweight or obesity varied a lot by region, from 19% in North America to only 5% in east Asia.
How did the researchers interpret the results?

The study suggest strongly that BMI is directly linked to how long you live ut even if that isn’t the case you should aim to achieve a healthy weight by eating healthily and excercising regularly.

 

If you are concerned about your weight or anyone else's your local pharmacy can be a good place to seek help and advice. Many have weight loss clinics and can usually offer advice without the need to make an appointment.