Obesity is associated with nearly 1 in 5 US deaths, according to a study published online August 15 in the American Journal of Public Health.
In research that counters previous studies of the effect of obesity on American life spans, Ryan K. Masters, PhD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues report that overweight and obesity were associated with 18.2% of all deaths among adults from 1986 through 2006 in the United States. Previous estimates of the effect of obesity on mortality, published in Demography in 2009, established an obesity-related death rate of approximately 5%.
The study also showed that the more recent the birth year, the greater effect obesity has on mortality rates. Further, contrary to claims in much public health literature, obesity is not protective for the elderly.