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Morbid Obesity: Increased Risk of Premature Death

Morbid Obesity Carries Increased Risk of Premature Death

Excess body fat associated with high body mass index (BMI) carries an increased risk of premature death. Obese patients (BMI 30+) have a 50-100 percent increased risk of death from all causes, compared with individuals of normal weight (BMI 20–25). Very severe overweight such as morbid obesity (BMI 40+) and malignant obesity (BMI 50+) carries a still higher risk of dying younger. Most of the increased risk is attributable to cardiovascular causes.

Studies Into Obesity and Premature Death

A 12-year obesity study of 330,000 men and 420,000 women, revealed that premature mortality rates for morbidly obese men were twice the normal. Premature death rates were increased five fold for diabetics and four fold for those with digestive tract disease. In severely obese women, the mortality was also increased two fold, while in female diabetics the mortality risk increased eight fold and three fold in those with digestive tract disease.

Another study of 200 men aged 23-70 years with severe clinical obesity, showed a twelve fold increase in mortality in the 25-34 year age group and a six fold increase in the 35-44 year age group. During the average follow-up period of 7.5 years, 50 of the original group had died.

Morbidly Obese Risk Lose Years of Life

Life expectancy of a moderately obese person could be shortened by 2 to 5 years.

  • Morbidly obese white males between 20 and 30 years old with a body mass index exceeding 45, can shorten their life expectancy by 13 years. Morbidly obese African American men of similar age and body mass index can lose up to 20 years of life.
  • Morbidly obese white females between 20 and 30 years old with a body mass index exceeding 45, can shorten their life expectancy by 8 years. Morbidly obese African American women of similar age and body mass index can lose up to 5 years of life.

Co-Morbid Conditions of Obesity Cause Higher Premature Death Rates

While obesity remains an independent risk factor per se for premature death, most mortality and morbidity is associated with the co-morbid conditions. Meaning – it is obesity-related diseases like cardiovascular disease which are the most common causes of death and serious disease. These weight-related health conditions include raised blood pressure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, cholelithiasis, obstructive sleep apnea, hypoventilation, degenerative arthritis and psychosocial impairments.

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