Researchers reviewed data from the National Health Interview Survey linked to the National Death Index to understand the association between obesity and early adult mortality. The sample included survey respondents between the ages of 40 and 84.9. The study uniquely accounted for not only the age of the respondent, but also the period in which they were observed and the birth cohort that they were a member of.
Results indicated that obesity accounts for more U.S. deaths in recent birth cohorts than for earlier ones. Furthermore, the impact of high body mass index on mortality risk was found to increase as individuals grew older.
“The large mortality burden we document suggests that current projections of U.S. life expectancy should be modified to account for the impact of rising obesity prevalence, especially among more recent birth cohorts. We believe that it is imperative for the U.S. public and those who construct policy for that public to recognize that population health and more than a century of steady gains in life expectancy are being jeopardized by the obesity epidemic,” the study’s authors conclude.
“The Impact of Obesity on U.S. Mortality Levels: The Importance of Age and Cohort Factors in Population Estimates.”
Ryan K. Masters
American Journal of Public Health