Extreme obesity may be taking years off a person’s life


By pH health care professionals

Obesity is on the rise, not only in the United States but around the world. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, more than a third of all adults are now overweight or obese. But despite how common it is to be overweight or obese, body weight can be a difficult topic to discuss. It is often discussed in the context of how you look and feel. Just look at all those magazine articles about getting a “bikini body,” how to “dress right for your body type,” or “how to love yourself at any size.” But we would be remiss if we didn’t talk to you about your quality of life and life expectancy too. We want you to love yourself and love how you look and feel, but we also want you to enjoy a long and healthy life. So stay with us here. This information may help you change your life for the better. 

What constitutes “obesity” anyway?

Obesity is classified as having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30. BMI is a ratio of your weight and height. It is measured by calculating your weight in kilograms over your height in centimeters squared (or you can check a handy chart like this one below). As an example, someone who is 6-feet tall and weighs 220 lbs. would have a BMI of 30, and would therefore be considered obese.

Isn’t BMI flawed?

At the individual level, BMI can be just one tool doctors use, and is not infallible. For example, that 6-foot tall person could be a bodybuilder, with his/her weight mostly in muscle. But overall, especially when looking at populations, it is an indicator that shows a trend, and in this case, a trend toward higher BMIs. For a more complete picture of your health, we recommend getting a body composition analysis done.

How can you quickly check your BMI?

Check your BMI with this chart:

Chart source

What should you know about obesity and life expectancy?

While all levels of excess fat carry some health risks, extreme obesity may be robbing years from your life span. BMIs of 40 and up fall into the category of extreme obesity, also called morbid obesity. To give you a point of reference, someone who is 6-feet tall and 300 lbs. would have a BMI of 40.

 A recently published analysis of 20 studies from the U.S., Sweden and Australia on adults aged 19-83 with extreme obesity (specifically, BMIs of 40-59.9) found that their excess weight resulted in an estimated loss of 6.5 to 13.7 years of life, compared with having a normal weight.

After statistical analyses, the researchers found that risk of all-cause death and death due to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases, increased with increasing BMI.


Years of Life Lost









What’s more, a new review by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund adds another serious illness to the pile of health risks – stomach cancer. Every five-unit increase in BMI caused a 23 percent increased risk of cancer in the upper stomach, researchers found.

How can you get obesity under control?

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.