A new study has found that being obese is not just unhealthy, it can in fact seriously increase the risk of death.
It seems this is particularly applicable to those over the age of fifty and being obese in midlife dramatically increases your risk of dying early.
Dr. Michael Leitzmann and a team from the National Cancer Institute, looked at the relationship of weight to the risk of dying in a large group of men and women who were between 50 to 71 years of age.
Data was collected on 527,265 participants in 1995 and 1996 and over a follow-up period of 10 years.
The researchers found by 2005, there were 61,317 deaths in the group and those who were overweight at age 50 had a 20 to 40 percent increased risk of dying prematurely, while for those who were obese, the risk of premature death was two to three times that of normal-weight people.
Leitzmann says that equates to a 200 to 300 percent increase in the risk of premature death.
Although the researchers did not look at specific causes of death, the primary causes of premature death in the group were heart disease and cancer.
Leitzmann believes in order to reduce the risk of premature death people need to maintain a normal weight throughout adulthood and avoid developing excess weight.
Many experts are in agreement and say the study indicates the risk of death increases with any weight gain and adds to the growing body of evidence that being overweight is a risk factor for early death.
It is well known that the majority of diabetes can be attributed to overweight, as is much cardiovascular disease, and obesity is also thought to increase the risk of cancer.
The advice they offer is that people watch their waistlines regardless of whether they have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, and adopt a healthy diet and engage in physical activity to lose the extra pounds.
Another study by researchers from Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has also found that that the risk of death from being overweight or obese was greater in younger people.
The Korean researchers looked at the effect of body weight on the risk of death of over 1.2 million 30- to 95-year-old Koreans over a 12-year period.
They looked at death from any cause and those from specific diseases, such as cancer, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.
The participants had an average BMI of 23.2, regardless of sex; the majority of participants had a BMI below 25, which is considered a normal weight compared to the average BMI in the United States which is 27.8 for men 20 years and older and 28.1 for women 20 years and older.
The team found that underweight, overweight and obese men and women had higher rates of death.
Those who had never smoked with a BMI of 23.0 to 24.9 had the lowest risk of death from any cause.
Sun Ha Jee, PhD, lead author of the study and an associate professor of Epidemiology at Yonsei University says they found that having either a high or low BMI increases the risk of death, and the risk of death from being overweight or obese was greater in younger people.
The studies are published in the Aug. 24 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.