Your Children Will Not Live As Long As You Do

Yes indeed, these are the findings of a special report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, earlier this year.

Excluding pandemics of infectious diseases, famine and war, life expectancy has slowly and progressively increased over the past thousand years. During the mid 19th century, improved living conditions and advances in public health dramatically decreased deaths from infectious disease.

However, during the past 30 years the rise in life expectancy at birth has decreased relative to this historical pattern.

Obesity & Future Life Expectancy

After remaining relatively stable in the 1960s and 70s obesity among adults in the US increased by approximately 50% per decade through the 1980s and 1990s. Now two-thirds of the US are overweight or obese. Obesity has been shown to significantly reduce life expectancy by an estimated 5 to 20 years.

The medical treatment of obesity has been largely unsuccessful and death rates from diabetes have risen dramatically. These trends suggest that the relative influence of obesity on the life expectancy of future generations could be significantly worse than it is for current generations.

This review article anticipates that as a result of the substantial rise in obesity and its life-shortening complications such as diabetes, life expectancy could level off or even decline within the next fifty years.

New England Journal of Medicine. March 17, 2005;352(11):1138-45.

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