Obesity is three times deadlier for men than women
Overall, the excess risk of premature death (before age 70) among those who are overweight or obese is about three times as great in men as in women.
"On average, overweight people lose about one year of life expectancy, and moderately obese people lose about three years of life expectancy" said lead author Emanuele Di Angelantonio of the University of Cambridge.
"We also found that men who were obese were at much higher risk of premature death than obese women. This is consistent with previous observations that obese men have greater insulin resistance, liver fat levels, and diabetes risk than women."
The study found an increased risk of premature death for people who were underweight, as well as for people classed as overweight. The risk increased steadily and steeply as BMI increased.
Where the risk of death before age 70 would be 19 percent and 11 percent for men and women with a normal BMI, the study found that it would be 29.5 percent and 14.6 percent for moderately obese men and women ( BMI 30-35).
This corresponds to an absolute increase of 10.5 percent for men, and 3.6 percent for wo men - three times as big. The authors defined premature deaths as those at ages 35-69 years.
"Obesity is second only to smoking as a cause of premature death in Europe and North America," said co-author Sir Richard Peto, University of Oxford, adding "Smoking causes about a quarter of all premature deaths in Europe and in North America, and smokers can halve their risk of premature death by stopping.
"But, overweight and obesity now cause about 1 in 7 of all premature deaths in Europe and 1 in 5 of all premature deaths in North America." ■