I wanted to write this article not just because obesity is the number one adverse health issue facing the planet…but the cost and disease burden associated with obesity is hard to calculate. Let’s keep it simple for today’s discussion…obesity can shorten your life expectancy!
It is a very well-understood fact that having a BMI (body mass index) above 30 is a significant independent risk factor for a host of disease clusters like heart attack, stroke and diabetes. In it’s early stages, being obese also increases risk factors which lead to the development of serious diseases. Risk factors such as high triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, A1C, inflammation, blood pressure and insulin can (and usually are) treated…but not the obesity. This, typically is left up to the individual to change their lifestyle.
This usually is ineffectual.
Whenever I write an article…I try and utilize research findings to support my theme/argument…this is the evidenced-based approach I have used and will continue to use and embrace. This article today is no exception because anecdotal evidence is weak and unreliable. Unfortunately, this is the type of evidence people continually rely upon when they read, listen or consult with others regarding this very important health issue.
The real important issues regarding obesity is that it commonly decreases quality of life and the length of life. These are the most important variables folks should consider regarding their lifestyle choices and the impact it makes upon their health outcomes!
In the latest edition of the BMJ (British Medical Journal), the relationship between obesity (as determined by a BMI> 30) to all cause mortality (death by any cause) was studied and evaluated. To understand this relationship, two large groups of people enrolled in 2 different studies were chosen. In the first study, they chose over 56,000 participants whom were followed for a average of 18 years. The other group of participants (over 350,000) were followed for an average of 7 years. During this time, all-cause and specific mortality (cancer, heart disease etc.) was calculated.
The study found a positive and significant risk of early mortality in those participants who had a BMI over 30. This risk was magnified in smokers. There was also a positive association between those having a BMI over 30 and specific cause mortality, in this case cardiovascular disease. However, more importantly, those who had lower BMI’s (19-22) had the lowest risk of all-cause and specific-cause mortality!
Of course, this new study does not reveal any new information regarding the relationship between obesity and premature death…but what it does do is substantiate the importance or managing and preventing obesity as a disease process!
The best way to accomplish this task is early intervention, including more education, resources and funding for strategies that have been demonstrated to actually work. Sadly…most of the interventions that occur in adult patients with obesity prove to be ineffectual. We have to look at prevention…an area that our current health care system continues to be sadly lacking.
Until Next Time
The Vitality Project
Dr. Kevin J. McLaughlin