Using data from almost four million adults on four continents, a study published in The Lancet medical journal found that the life expectancy of overweight people was, on average, a one year lower. For the severely obese, life expectancy fell by almost ten years. Think about all you can achieve in ten years.

The study refuted earlier findings that carrying a few extra pounds poses little risk and instead, pointed to evidence that the risk of dying before your 70th birthday grows “steadily and steeply” as your waistline expands.

“This study definitely shows that being overweight or obese is associated with a risk of premature death,” lead author Emanuele Di Angelantonio from the University of Cambridge told AFP.

The risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer “are all increased”, he said.

A large international team of researchers sifted through data garnered from more than 10.6 million people in 239 large studies conducted between 1970 and 2015 in 32 countries across North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and east and south Asia, producing the largest-ever pooled dataset on being overweight and mortality.

To rule out the impact of other mortality risks, the team excluded current or former smokers, those who had chronic disease at the beginning of the study, and those who died within the first five years and were left with a sample group of 3.9 million adults.

The team divided these adults into categories according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio of weight-to-height squared, and compared the number and causes of death in each group.

The researchers found that the risk of dying before age 70 rose from 19 percent in normal weight men to 29.5 percent in the moderately obese group, and from 11 percent to 14.6 percent for women.

If overweight and obese people were to return to normal BMI levels, this could eliminate one in seven premature deaths in Europe, concluded the study.


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