Obesity shown to cause almost one in four deaths in USA now

Obesity shown to cause almost one in four deaths in USA now

A radical yet intelligent rethink on the damage obesity is doing to Americans and the Western world - given we all eat the Standard American Diet - is causing doctors to suggest it is almost 4 times worse than estimated...

When the researchers compared death rates from obesity by the decade, and by the age group, they found that it was causing far more deaths than previously suggested.

  • For white men born between 1915 and 1919, obesity accounted for about 3.5% of all deaths
  • For white men born between 1920 and 1929, obesity accounted for about 5% of all deaths
  • For white men born between 1930 and 1939, obesity accounted for about 7% of all deaths
  • So the death rate had doubled in just 20 years
  • Black women had the overall highest risk of dying from obesity or being overweight at 27%

“This was more than a tripling of the previous estimate.  Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe.  Previous research has likely underestimated obesity’s impact on US mortality.  Importantly, counter to most extant research, obesity’s effect on mortality risk grows stronger with increasing age.  From our findings, obesity actually has a very strong and substantial effect on old age mortality risk.  We found that obesity indeed has a quite significant effect on mortality levels in the United States and estimates are actually significantly larger than prevailing wisdom has suggested.  Existing literature largely indicates roughly about 5% of all adult deaths in the United States could be associated with overweight or obesity.  What we find is that between the ages of 40 and 85 … about 18% of all deaths that took place between 1986 and 2006 could be said to be associated with high body mass.  The effects on obese children may be much worse.  Successive cohorts are living in this new environment and are at greater risk of obesity at earlier times in their lives.  Each specific cohort looks like a wave that’s grown bigger than the cohort that has come before it.  Adults born in the 1970s and 1980s - a generation for whom excess weight has been widespread and lifelong - will suffer higher premature death rates than have older Americans.  We expect that obesity will be responsible for an increasing share of deaths in the United States and perhaps even lead to declines in U.S. life expectancy.  We believe we have a clearer picture of how obesity is impacting the [United States] population.  Not only is the problem more serious than previously thought, it is destined to get worse as younger generations move into adulthood.  It’s quite worrisome.  The absence of evidence of the obesity effect in older people is likely because obese people are more likely to experience early death, or they have serious health complications that would reduce their participation in health surveys.  Barring any revolutionary breakthrough to lessen the prevalence, we’re likely to see that obesity is going to account for a larger share [of deaths] in the future”
Ryan K. Masters, PhD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar and Demographer at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Sociology, August 2013.

“Younger people who are obese do have a higher risk of dying early”
Dr. Katherine Flegal and colleagues at the National Center for Health Statistics, August 2013.

“Whatever the disagreements among researchers, we know that obesity is not good for your health.  Even if the nation holds steady at the current rates, Baby Boomers—who are aging into obesity-related illnesses—and the rapidly rising numbers of extremely obese Americans are already translating into a cost crisis for the healthcare system and Medicare”
Jeff Levi, Trust for America’s Health, August 2013.

“A 5-year-old growing up today is living in an environment where obesity is much more the norm than was the case for a 5-year-old a generation or two ago.  Drink sizes are bigger, clothes are bigger and greater numbers of a child’s peers are obese.  And once someone is obese, it is very difficult to undo.  So, it stands to reason that we won’t see the worst of the epidemic until the current generation of children grows old
Bruce Link, professor of epidemiology and sociomedical sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City, August 2013.

Study “The Impact of Obesity on U.S. Mortality Levels: The Importance of Age and Cohort Factors in Population Estimates” by Ryan K. Masters, PhD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar and Demographer at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Sociology, with a team of sociologist colleagues.  The data on 717,568 people was from 19 consecutive years of annual U.S. National Health Interview Surveys 1986-2004.  This study was analysed and compared with individual mortality records from the National Death Index and published in the American Journal of Public Health on August 15, 2013.  The researchers broke the population data down into ‘cohorts’ or ‘generations’ and then studied the effect of obesity and the death rates for obesity in these groups. They focused on ages 40-85 and excluded accidents, homicides and congenital conditions.  As reported by NBC News, HealthDay News, Medscape Medical News, WebMD, The Los Angeles Times, National Institute of Health, The Plain Dealercounselheal.com and medlineplus.com on August 15, 2013.

Posted: Wednesday 16 October 2013