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Obesity May Shorten Life Expectancy

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Updated March 17, 2005

The "Social Security Crisis" may not be as urgent a problem as the President is trying to lead us to believe. At least if the predictions of researchers from University of Illinois at Chicago come close to being true. A special report appearing in the March 17 issue in the New England Journal of Medicine predicts that life expectancy will decline over the next 50 years due to the epidemic of obesity in this country.

The study determines that obesity currently reduces life expectancy by approximately four to nine months. While that may not seem to be a problem obesity has a negative effect on life span that is greater than that of homicide and accidental death combined. Combine those negative effects with the rapid rise in obesity among children and young adults and researchers feel that obesity may overcome heart disease and cancer in shortening life span in the US.

Some predict that in the next fifty years life expectancies may drop from two to five years due to obesity even with improvements in our medical and pharmaceutical knowledge and technology.

Researchers also predict that minorities will be the hardest hit due to decreased access to health care.

Obesity can lead to numerous health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. While some obesity can be blamed on heredity, the most common causes are lack of physical activity, large portion sizes and increased intake of processed foods with large amounts of refined sugar.

No safe and effective medication has yet been developed for weight loss. The most effective way to lose weight is to increase physical activity and decrease caloric intake within a well balanced diet.

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