How Your Weight Can Affect Life Expectancy

With the obesity epidemic predominant in the United States, many people are wondering how weight can affect life expectancy.  Does being overweight mean you will have a shorter lifespan?  Does it mean the quality of your life will be lower?  These are questions that anyone worried about their weight should be considering. It’s not just about looking like a super model anymore, length and quality of life are real concerns these days.


A New England Journal of Medicine study resulted in the prediction that over the next 50 years, life expectancy due to weight will continue to decline.  According to the study, the current loss of life due to obesity is four to nine months.  Even with medical advances, some researchers believe that life expectancy can be reduced by anywhere from two to five years. There are many individual factors that determine how weight can affect someone’s life.  For instance, the younger a person is when they begin to gain too much weight, the more stress their bodies will have to endure for longer periods of time.  Someone battling weight from a young age will have put more stress on their hearts and lungs, causing long term problems later in life. 

Health Problems

There are many health problems associated with being overweight, each of which can affect how long you live.  High cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and higher risk of stroke are all risks that increase as you gain weight. In the United States, type 2 diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death.  There is a link between this disease and obesity.  In fact, an average of 85% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are overweight.  Scientists believe that as weight increases, there are changes to cell that make them insulin resistant. Besides death, the disease can lead to kidney problems, stroke, and problems with circulation.

Because obesity can cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure, studies have shown that there is an increased risk of stroke.  Additionally, those carrying higher amounts of weight on their bodies in turn cause their hearts to work harder when performing the same tasks of someone who’s weight is proportional to their body. 

Quality of Life

Many people who have weight problems also face quality of life problems.  Lack of exercise and the additional burden of carrying the excess weight can cause energy levels to drop, meaning less activity.  This lack of activity often leads to more eating and more weight gain. 

Obesity also often causes issues with self-esteem. Those who are morbidly obese especially, tend to feel embarrassed about their size and eventually fall into depression.  Unfortunately, this becomes a never ending cycle because depression can lead to overeating.  It also causes people to stay away from activities that they once enjoyed either because the weight has made it impossible to do these things, or because they are ashamed of their size. 


Once thought of only in terms of outward appearance, weight is now in the front and center of the medical world. Obesity can shave months or years from your life as well as reducing the quality of it.  Anyone concerned that their health of mental well-being is at risk because of weight, should see their physician and determine a plan to confront the problem.




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