29 Apr 2019

A study of 2.8m people in the UK has revealed that people who are severely obese are 50% more likely to die at an early age than those who are at a healthy weight.

The research conducted by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk looked at anonymised NHS data, spanning ten years and investigating the health outcomes from patients who were grouped into five weight categories from normal to severely obese. During the ten-year period 12 different health outcomes were monitored, including death, to paint a picture of how a persons weight affects their overall health.

The results showed increased disease risk from all levels of obesity, even for those with the lowest severity of obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 35. People in that group were five times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes and sleep apnea, and twice as likely to develop high blood pressure and heart disease as those who were at a healthy weight.

For those severely obese the risks increased exponentially. Those falling in this category were 50% more likely to die from any cause than those who maintained a healthy weight.

“With the number of people living with obesity almost tripling worldwide over the past 30 years (105 million people in 1975 to 650 million in 2016), our findings have serious implications for public health,” said author Christiane Lundegaard Haase from Novo Nordisk. “Body mass index represents an important modifiable risk factor for ameliorating the risk of a wide variety of serious health problems in the general population.”