Body Mass Index and Decreased Life Expectancy

Dr. Anna Peters and co-investigators (Netherlands Epidemiology and Demography Compression of Morbidity Research Group) discuss findings of research on overweight and obese subjects. The authors found that, compared weight normal-weight subjects, being overweight at 40 years of age reduces life expectancy by 3.3 years among female non-smokers and by 3.1 years among male non-smokers. Being obese at age 40 years reduces life expectancy by 7.1 years among female non-smokers and by 5.8 years among male non-smokers. Adding smoking to the analysis decreased life expectancy even further. Among the smokers, being overweight at 40 years of age reduced life expectancy by 7.2 years in women and by 6.7 years in men (compared with normal weight-subjects). And being an obese smoker at 40 years of age reduced life expectancy by more than a decade, by 13.3 years for obese female smokers and by 13.7 years for obese male smokers.

In addition, the Body Mass Index (BMI) at 30 to 49 years of age was a significant predictor of mortality even after adjusting for the BMI at 59-69 years of age. Their conclusion was that “there is an urgent need for effective prevention and treatment strategies to combat the growing epidemic of obesity”. (MD Consult 2003).

Body Mass Index is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by the square of body height (in meters). (1 kilogram =2.2 pounds) and 1 inch = .0254 meters). See attached chart to determine your BMI.

Doctors generally advise people not to exceed a BMI of 25. A normal BMI is about 21-24. A BMI greater than 25 is “overweight” and a BMI greater than 29.9 is approximately where “overweight” becomes “obesity”

More important than BMI may be where you carry your fat. Scientists now believe that it’s the fat stored in your waist or abdomen area, giving you an “apple” shape that does the most damage to your health. Fat stored in the hips and thighs, causing a “pear” shape, is less of a health-risk. Abdominal fat is more metabolically active than fat elsewhere in the body. When “apples” store fat, it’s broken down and released into the bloodstream more readily. This rise in circulating fat can bring on the health problems associated with obesity.

What are we compulsive overeaters to do with this information?
First, I believe that we are absolutely not to shame or condemn ourselves. It will produce no good fruit and God states that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ”.

We are to put the past behind us and press onwards and upwards. We must be humbled and sobered, however, by what we have done to our bodies and the direction that we are headed if we do not change our ways. We need mercy in the midst of reaping.

We want to be like King David, who “when he had accomplished the purposes of God for his generation, fell asleep” (Acts 13:38). I do not want to leave this earth one day sooner than God desires me to. I know that I have the power to shorten my life-span and diminish my destiny if I do not become right-weighted. May we become motivated to get on track and stay on track so that we can further the kingdom. How wonderful to be told, “well done, thou good and faithful servant!” by God when we do meet face-to-face!

This article is by Jennifer Cecil, M.Ed., LPC