Length of time spent obese may contribute to higher risk of death

May 13, 2011

Those who are overweight for a long period of time may face a higher risk of death.

The number of years a person lives with obesity may be directly related to their risk of mortality, according to a recent study by researchers at Monash University.

The study used data from the Framingham Heart Study, which included 5,209 participants who were followed up with for 48 years, beginning in 1948. Researchers focused on individuals who were found to not have diabetes, heart disease or cancer at the beginning of the original study.

Results showed that those with the longest duration of obesity had nearly triple the risk of mortality than those who had never been obese, researchers said.

"This research shows for the first time that being obese for longer increases your risk of mortality, no matter how heavy you actually are," said Monash University researcher Dr. Anna Peeters.

Researchers said they hope the study will help to encourage the creation of policies that deal with the problem of obesity, particularly in children, to prevent them having the illness for a number of years.

This study serves as evidence, not only for doctors, scientists and health advocates, but also for life insurance companies, which have historically considered obesity as a risk factor for increased mortality.  

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