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Being overweight or underweight lowers life expectancy

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Being overweight can harm life expectancy Too much, or even too little, body fat can harm life expectancy

Being overweight or underweight could lower life expectancy by four years, a study published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology suggests.

The study involved just under 2 million people who were registered with doctors in the UK.

Researchers found that people at the higher end of the Body Mass Index range had the lowest risk of dying from disease, while people at the top and bottom ends of the BMI risked having shorter lives.

‘Associations between high BMI and several mortality outcomes attenuated with age and were stronger in men than in women,’ commented the study’s authors. ‘Obesity was associated with a 42-year reduction in remaining life expectancy for a male 40-year-old never-smoker and a 35-year reduction for a female 40-year-old never smoker, when compared with individuals of healthy weight, with longest reductions in life expectancy estimated for the most severely obese (class 3) individuals; underweight was associated with a reduction in life expectancy of more than 4 years.’

The report study also found that mental health conditions lowered life expectancy, saying: ‘The raised risks of many outcomes at low BMI, coupled with the fact that mental health conditions showed the strongest inverse associations with low BMI, might indicate pervasive effects of mental health problems on a range of outcomes, through pathways that could include poorer self-care and less access to or use of health-care services, or both.’

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