Results of a pooled data analysis show that adults with extreme obesity have increased risks of dying at a young age from cancer and other conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney and liver diseases. The study findings appear in PLOS Medicine.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute first classified subjects according to their body mass index (BMI): normal, overweight, Class I obesity, Class II obesity, or Class III obesity. The analysis comprised of 20 large studies involving adults from the U.S., Sweden, and Australia. The researchers assessed the risk of premature death overall and the risk of premature death from specific causes in people who were Class III obese (n>9,500) vs. normal weight (n=304,000).

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The study found that people with Class III (or extreme) obesity were found to have a significant reduction in life expectancy compared with people of normal weight. Within the Class III obesity group, increasing BMI was correlated to increased risk of dying overall and from most major health causes. Years lost in life expectancy ranged from 6.5 years (BMI 40–44.9) to 13.7 years (BMI of 55–59.9).Researchers concluded there is a need to develop more effective interventions to fight extreme obesity.

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