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Growing Obesity Epidemic Cuts Future Lifespan

Two weeks ago, I posted the results of a National Center for Health Statistics study that reported the average American's life expectancy increased slightly to just under 78 years. However, there are a number of "X-factors" that can affect one's health and longevity, with the obesity epidemic arguably being the most controllable and frustrating of them all to me.

With two-thirds of America's adults overweight or obese and this nation's children not too far behind, it's not at all surprising to me a new study appearing in this week's New England Journal of Medicine argues life expectancy rates may fall dramatically in the future as a result of this epidemic. What's drawn the most attention and skepticism: Within a half-century, the average lifespan could decline by as much as five years, a development that could foreshadow serious social and economic trouble.

Even worse, the dramatic increase in childhood obesity may have erased anywhere from four to nine months off their lives already, according to researchers.

A demographic expert threw cold water on those numbers as "excessively gloomy" in an accompanying editorial, because they don't account for medical advances down the line. Of course, that argument assumes there will be a "wonder drug" that will rid our society of obesity once and for all. Based on all the nonsense I've seen lately from the FDA and mega-pharmaceuticals, however, don't count on it.

Especially when there are steps you can take today to shut down the obesity epidemic in your home once and for all:

New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 2005, Volume 352, Number 11:1138-1145

Yahoo News March 17, 2005

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