Here is a fabulous study
based on a huge amount of data with a disturbing result given today’s obesity epidemic: being obese in late adolescence increases mortality in adulthood as much as smoking.
In this study, the researchers followed 45,920 Swedish military recruits, average age 18.7 years for 38 years. Over 1,700,000 person years, 2,987 men died. After 38 years of study, the data showed that the mortality rates in
- normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 25) was 1.7 per 1,000 per year
- overweight (BMI 25 to 30) was 1.33 per 1,000 per year
- obese (BMI > 30) was 2.14 per 1000 per year
This study started in 1950; three decades before the obesity epidemic began. This message is sobering given the huge increase in adolescent obesity and consistent with the projections of Olshansky
that the obesity epidemic might, for the first time in a century, decrease the next generation's life expectancy.
Obesity in America is a serious epidemic that began in the early 1980s. As this study highlights, the serious effects of this epidemic will be with us for many, many years to come.