Study finds being obese in your 20s can actually take a decade off of your life

Most of us are aware that being overweight is detrimental to our health, but a new study finds that obesity early in life can reduce our time on the planet by as much as 10 years.

Australian researchers at the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney found that young adults in their 20s who are obese are much more likely to die a decade earlier than those who are not obese.

The study also found that men are expected to lose 27 percent more years of life expectancy than women, on average.

“We know that excess weight has an impact on your health, but to have excess weight as a young adult is really significant on life expectancy. We are talking about losing up to 10 years of your life,” says lead author Thomas Lung, of the George Institute of Global Health, in a statement.

The study’s key findings note:

  • Men and women currently in their 20s with average to healthy body weight can expect to live another 57 to 60 years. But individuals in their 20s in an obese weight category will lose an average of six years among women and eight years among men. In addition, young adults who are severely obese have even shorter projected lifespans; severely obese women will lose eight years of their lives, and men will lose 10 years.
  • Differences among genders mean that Australian men in their 20s today will lose 5.6 million years of life due to excess weight, while women in the same age bracket will lose 3 million years.

“There is the assumption that overweight and obesity is a problem for people in middle age, and that people in their 20s and 30s are in the prime of their lives. Yet currently, only 43 percent of Australian men in their 20s and 34 percent in their 30s are in a healthy weight range, which is worrying.” comments co-author Associate Professor Alison Hayes.

“Our model predicts adult obesity prevalence will increase to 35 percent by 2025. We need to act now and have an obesity prevention strategy targeting adults at all ages and in particular young adults,” Dr. Lung noted.

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