Obesity, a growing problem in the United States. It contributes heart disease, high blood pressure and a whole array of health problems to both men and women. But, for women, being obese in middle age could cut the chances of making it to their golden years 80 percent. This data should make you stand up and be aware, not to mention stand up and start exercising. Researchers studied more than 17,000 female nurses, with an average age of 50 residing in the U.S. At the beginning of the study in 1976 all of these women were healthy.
The researchers then monitored the women’s weight, along with other health changes, every two years, for 24 years, until 2000. For each point raised of their Body Mass Index (BMI) the women had a 12 percent lower chance of living to age 70. These women were in good health when they were compared with women who were thin. The researchers defined “healthy survival” as not only living free of any chronic disease, but also having ample physical and mental ability to perform daily outlines such as housework, shopping for groceries, or even walking up one flight of stairs.
The experts consider people that have a BMI between 19-25 to be healthy, while those that are over 30 are considered obese and from 25 to 30 are considered to be overweight. The women who were formerly overweight at the early age of 18 and then gained more than 10 kilograms later on in life only had about a 20 percent chance of living to the age of 70 and be in good health. The most frequently reported illnesses in these women were heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. A professor and chair of the public health and community medicine department at Tufts University School of Medicine, said, “people may think they can harmlessly gain weight through their 20s, 30s, and even 40s, but there is no proof that
gaining weight is natural.”
These results suggest that small weight gains are not harmless. A British study that was broadcast earlier this year found that people that had a BMI from 30 to 35 die about three years sooner than normal while those that were thought to be morbidly fat, with a BMI above 40, dies approximately a decade earlier. Fat acts mostly the same way for both men and women. The experts said that the finding underlined the relevance of preventing becoming obese in the first place. One researcher who is an obesity expert at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, suggests, “If you are on the obesity track early in your life, it could get quite dangerous by the time you are middle-aged.”
He stated that it was still uncertain if they did lose their weight later on in life if people could regain their health benefits from when they were thin. With scientific advances in treating obesity, the average life spans have increased in recent years. But the experts advise that the obesity epidemic could ultimately one day undo those gains. We know we’re extending life span, but we don’t know if we’re extending healthy survival. It is not a pretty picture to think one is going to spend the last three decades of one’s life with a give and take of physical and mental function.
That may not be the picture of aging we have when we think of living into our 90s. Our health is more important than we take it to be and only we can help ourselves. This study was published online in the medical journal, BMJ. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center funded the study.