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Obesity Found to Reduce Life Expectancy

News | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

14 Nov 2016 2:57 PM

With ever improving standards of living, considerable advancements in medicine nutrition throughout most developed countries, it only makes sense for Australians to expect to see an increase in our life expectancy. And in fact, the Australian life expectancy has been steadily increasing for decades.

However, a recent study published in The Lancet provides evidence to suggest that these positive effects are at risk of being undermined, and these improvements potentially reversed, by Australia’s rising obesity epidemic.

The research, conducted by the Global BMI Mortality Collaboration, involved more than 10 million participants across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

The researchers were able to prove for the first time that obesity is a major contributor to the increase of all-cause mortality.

The study shows a strong positive correlation between unhealthy BMI and increased mortality rates in every global region within the study’s scope. The risk of premature death increases by around one third for every increase in the BMI unit above the overweight range as suggested by the World Health Organization.

One potential factor is the significant number of serious medical, physical and psychosocial problems that are associated with morbid obesity. The most serious of these include Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, coronary diseases, and even certain types of cancer - the Cancer Council estimates that 4,000 diagnoses of cancer per year in Australia are related to obesity and overweight alone.

Professor Anna Peeters of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Center for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University noted that this study can be applied to the population-wide issue in Australia. With over 60% of adults in the country overweight or obese, this highlights the severity of current obesity rates affecting future life expectancy. Obesity may very well be the cause of the first decrease in life expectancy in decades.       

This is not merely a statistical issue. Obesity will not shave a couple of years off the life of everyone in the country equally - instead it will significantly cut short the lives of people who suffer from obesity. A 20 year old adult man with a BMI of 40 (obese as defined by the World Health Organization), if untreated, will have his life expectancy reduced by 17 years to just65.

Fortunately, solutions and treatments are available.

Among to the most effective obesity treatment options, bariatric surgery produces significant and desirable results in the long run. The gastric bypass procedure, considered the “gold standard” of weight control operation, in one such option. Gastric bypass surgery involves combining restriction and malabsorption that leads to durable and significant weight loss.

Gastric banding is a less invasive form of bariatric surgery. It utilizes an adjustable gastric band to restrict the amount of food the stomach can hold and decreasing food intake.  Gastric sleeve surgery involves the permanent removal of a part of the stomach, leaving the patient with a crescent shaped sleeve that joins the esophagus and the small intestine.

These bariatric procedures can resolve weight-related co-morbidities such as diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and hypertension, and offer improved life expectancy for obesity patients. For more information, contact Adelaide Bariatric Centre today.