America's obesity epidemic is showing no signs of abating. In fact, 6% of the American public now struggles with so-called "extreme obesity" a diagnosis pegged to body mass index readings of 40 and above. And now new research warns that extreme obesity will shorten a person's life by roughly 6 to 14 years.
The finding published in the journal PLOS Medicine is based on a review of 20 previously conducted investigations. In total, the studies included more than 300,000 healthy weight adults and nearly 9,600 classified as extremely obese. Participants were between the ages of 19 and 83 and fatalities were tracked for an average of 30 years.
In that time, the study authors determined that overall death rates were more than double among the extremely obese, compared with normal weight adults. The main driver of excess risk was heart disease although cancer and diabetes also contributed to significantly premature death among the extremely obese.
In fact, the investigating team concluded that extreme obesity ultimately shortens life expectancy by at least as much as smoking.