Obesity Kills More Americans Than Previously Thought
Most Americans are well aware that obesity is a serious health concern. We have learned that obesity can lead to a host of problems, including diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Most people also know that several of these conditions carry serious and sometimes life-threatening implications. However, a new study performed at Columbia University shows that obesity, and the diseases associated with it, is an even deadlier condition than previously believed.
The new study, The Impact of Obesity on U.S. Mortality Levels: The Importance of Age and Cohort Factors in Population Estimates, found that in recent decades obesity has accounted for 18% of deaths among Black and White Americans between the ages of 40 and 85. It found black women had the highest rate of death from obesity at 27%, followed by white women (21%), white men (15%), and black men (5%). These figures, which are far higher than previous estimates, are indicative of a problem that researchers believe will only continue to worsen in the coming years.
Timothy S. Paul, of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, describes the researchers' findings in his article, "Obesity Kills More Americans Than Previously Thought." He explains that obesity is deadlier than we thought it was, and it is a problem that may only get worse in the next few decades because this generation is growing up in an environment where people have unprecedented access to unhealthy foods and drinks, and where more and more of one’s peers are obese. These facts only compound a problem that already has a huge effect on our healthcare system.
Due to rising health concerns and results of studies such as these, doctors are advocating greater awareness and more effective treatment of obesity. Dr. Marc Bessler, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at NYP/Columbia, offered his insight into these new findings.
"Given the increased risk of obesity documented in this study, effective treatment is even more important. The costs and risks of treatment with medication and even surgery must be weighed against the cost of obesity in mortality, quality of life and health cost dollars. While prevention efforts can help prevent further increases in incidence of obesity, we must make use of what we have available to mitigate the effects of this deadly disease in the many who already suffer from it."