Obesity’s Effects on Lifespan
by David Dunaief
Jun 18, 2019 | 2302 views | 0 0 comments | 255 255 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.
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It’s well-known that obesity could have an impact on development of other chronic diseases and decrease quality of life, but to what extent? A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Public Health indicated that almost as many as one in five deaths in the U.S. is associated with obesity.

In a computer modeling study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, results showed that those who are obese may lose up to eight years of their life span. But that is only part of the picture.

The other, more compelling result is that patients who are very obese could lose almost two decades of healthy living. According to the researchers, this means you may have diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

However, even those patients who were obese and those who were overweight could have reductions in life span, up to six years and three years, respectively.

This study evaluated 3,992 adults between ages 20 and 79, and looked at participants who went on to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Though this is not a clinical trial, the results are eye-opening, with the youngest and very obese negatively impacted the most.

Cancer impact

Since it is very difficult to “cure” cancer, it is important to reduce modifiable risk factors. The American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO), in a position paper, supported the idea that it is important to treat obesity in the fight against cancer.

The authors indicate obesity may make the prognosis worse, may hinder the delivery of therapies to treat cancer, and may increase the risk of malignancy.

Also, possibly reinforcing ASCO’s stance, a study suggested that upward of a half-million cases of cancer worldwide were related to being overweight or obese, with the overwhelming concentration in North America and Europe.

Possible solutions

A potential counterweight to both the reductions in life quality and life expectancy may be a Mediterranean-type diet. In a published analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study, results show that the Mediterranean diet helped slow shortening of the telomeres.

Repeat sequences of DNA found at the end of chromosomes, telomeres shorten with age; the shorter the telomere, the shorter life expectancy.

Thus, the Mediterranean-type diet may decrease occurrence of chronic diseases, increase life span and decrease premature mortality — countering the effects of obesity.

Interestingly, the greater the adherence to the diet, rated on a scale of 0 to 9, the better the effect. Those who had an increase in adherence by three points saw a corresponding decrease in telomere aging by 4.5 years. There were 4,676 middle-aged women involved in this analysis. The researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects could be responsible for the diet’s effects.

According to an accompanying editorial, no individual component of the diet was identified as having beneficial effects by itself, so it may be the diet as a whole that is important.

Short-term solutions

There are easy-to-use distraction tactics to reduce food cravings. These include tapping your foot on the floor, staring at a blank wall and alternating tapping your index finger against your forehead and your ear.

The forehead and ear tapping technique was most effective, although probably most embarrassing in public.

Among mental techniques, seeing pictures of foods that were unhealthy and focusing on their long-term detriments to health had the most impact. These short-term distractors were done for 30 seconds at a time. The results showed that they decreased food cravings in obese patients.

Obesity can have devastating effects, from potentially inducing cancer or worsening it, to shortening life expectancy and substantially decreasing quality of life.

Fortunately, specific lifestyle modifications may help treat obesity. The Mediterranean diet as a whole may be an effective step. As we mentioned, there are simple techniques that may help reduce short-term food cravings.

For further information, visit medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.
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