We all know that being obese increases your risk of developing all sorts of potentially deadly health conditions, including blood clots, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and more. Most people think that those risks might reduce your lifespan by a few years—apparently not enough to shock overweight and obese people into changing their behavior. But new research shows that men who are obese in their early 20s are far more likely to suffer from serious health problems in their 50s. In fact, there’s a good chance that they might not even make it to 50 at all.
In the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, a team of researchers led by Morton Schmidt and Henrik Toft Sorenson tracked 6,500 Danish men, all born in 1955, from the time they were 22 until age 55. They found that half of the obese men (with a BMI of 30 or higher) had been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in legs or lungs by the time they reached 55—that’s if they hadn’t already died by that time.
In addition, compared to normal-weight men, obese men were eight times more likely to get diabetes, four times more likely to have venous thromboembolism (a potentially fatal blood clot), and more than twice as likely to have high blood pressure, have sustained a heart attack or to have died. Overall, the obese men were nearly three times more likely than normal-weight men to develop some kind of serious health condition—50% vs 20%.
If you don’t already know, as your healthcare provider what your BMI is (and if you haven’t seen your provider in a while, make an appointment today). It’s important to get that baseline, because according to the study, every unit increase (from 25 to 26, etc) in BMI increases your risk of having a heart attack by 5%, high blood pressure by 10%, and diabetes by 20%.
The article appeared in the April 29 online edition of BMJ Open. You can read the full article here.