Obesity Could Reduce U.S. Life Expectancy
Recent studies have shown that obesity had a more pronounced impact on life expectancy in the U.S. has than accidents and homicides. Since Americans are getting fatter by the minute, we might well reverse the decades long trend toward longer lifespans.
Increasing waistlines, falling longevity (U.S. News)
Life expectancy jumped at the end of the last century as medical advances and changes in sanitation made many diseases less common and more curable. Now, we’ve come to expect that longevity will rise as steadily and inevitably as the cost of living. But, researchers from all over the United States say that this trend may not last forever and that obesity could for the first time ever cause life expectancy to fall.
Obesity reduced the life expectancy of Americans by four to nine months. That reduction is greater, the researchers say, than the negative impact on life expectancy of all types of accidental deaths, including accidents and homicides. What’s more, the researchers say, because obesity among youth is increasing at a fast clip, its impact on life expectancy is likely to become more pronounced. The researchers speculate that life expectancy will stagnate in five to 10 years, and then begin to decrease as obesity begins picking off the younger generation.
Not only is this speculative and based on the bizarre presumption that no advances in medicine will offset this impact but it actually does not sound like that big a deal. Given that the four to nine months come at the end of a long life, the tradeoff for seventy five years of enjoying access to good-tasting foods may well be worth the trade-off.
There are all sorts of reasons to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and take care of one’s health and appearance. A slight increase in the aggregate life expectancy, though, is pretty low on that list.