Obesity accounted for 18% of all deaths in the American population aged 40 to 85 years from 1986 to 2006, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers said these numbers signal a greater mortality risk among obese US adults than previously thought.
“Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe,” Ryan K. Masters, PhD, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said in a press release. “We expect that obesity will be responsible for an increasing share of deaths in the United States and perhaps even lead to declines in US life expectancy.”
They utilized 19 waves of the National Health Interview Survey linked to individual mortality rates at the National Death Index from 1986 to 2006.
They found that mortality among 5% of black (95% CI, –6.8 to 18.3) and 15.6% (95% CI, 8.6-22.9) of white men and 26.8% of black (95% CI, 7.3-47.4) and 21.7% of white women (95% CI, 14.4-29.3) between 1986 and 2006 were related to being overweight or obese, according to data.
“When aggregated and standardized by the race/ethnic and sex distribution of US deaths in year 2000, these results suggest that overweight and obesity were responsible for about 18.2% of US black and white men’s and women’s adult deaths between 1986 and 2006,” the researchers wrote.
When the researchers compared their findings to the existing literature, they found a significantly greater risk for mortality among men and women with obesity at older ages. Mortality increased with age across all birth cohorts, they added.