Being severely obese at age four cuts your life expectancy in half to just 39, study finds

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Published Time: 15.05.2024 - 01:40:31 Modified Time: 15.05.2024 - 01:40:31

Children with BMI z scores of 2

Children with BMI z scores of 2.0 had an estimated life expectancy of 65 without weight loss

: fatihhoca

Being very obese as a four-year-old cuts life expectancy by around half to just 39, according to a study.

If the child loses weight as they grow older, years could be added back to their life, researchers said.

The analysis, led by life sciences consultancy Stradoo, which is based in Germany, used data from 50 existing studies on obesity to estimate the impact of childhood obesity on conditions such as type two diabetes and life expectancy.

The pieces of research combined included more than 10 million people from countries around the world, including around 2.7 million people aged between two and 29.

Weight deviates 

Researchers used a body mass index (BMI) z scorewhich measures how much a youngster’s weight deviates from the normal range for their age and genderto estimate how obese children were.

The higher the BMI z score, the more a child weighed.

The team found children that who were severely obese at age fourwith a BMI z score of 3.5had a life expectancy of 39 years if they did not lose weight.

Children with BMI z scores of 2.0 had an estimated life expectancy of 65 without weight loss, while children with a score of 2.5 had a life expectancy of 50 years.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics in January revealed life expectancy at birth in the UK from 2020 to 2022 was 78.6 years for men and 82.6 years for women.

: Peter Dazeley

Dr Urs Wiedemann, of Stradoo, said: “While it’s widely accepted that childhood obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and that it can reduce life expectancy, evidence on the size of the impact is patchy.

“A better understanding of the precise magnitude of the long-term consequences and the factors that drive them could help inform prevention policies and approaches to treatment, as well as improve health and lengthen life.”

The team also found severely obese four-year-olds were also 27 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes by the age of 25, and had a 45 per cent chance of developing the condition by age 35.

In comparison, children with BMI z scores of two at age four had a 6.5 per cent chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 25 and a 22 per cent chance by 35.

Researchers also used their modelling to determine the impact of weight loss.

Early-onset obesity

Children with severe early-onset obesityor a BMI z score of 4.0 at age fourwho do not lose weight had a life expectancy of 37 and a 55 per cent risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


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