A study that was published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday, claims that death due to obesity in the United States may be four times higher than previously thought.
The study states that an estimated 18% of premature deaths that occurred from 1986 to 2006 were the result of obesity. This is much higher than the 5% toll currently used by researchers. The study claims that the raising obesity epidemic in American will cause future generations to have lower life-expectancy rates. Americans born in the 70’s and 80’s are expected to live shorter lives than previous generations due to obesity. Premature death due to obesity is higher in women than in men. 21.7% of white women who died prematurely between 1986 to 2006 can be attributed to obesity. For African American women the number was higher, at 26.8%.The number of white men who died prematurely due to obesity between 1986 and 2006 was 15.6%, and only 5% for African American men. While African American men do suffer from high obesity rates, the study found that they are more likely to die prematurely due to other causes, such as injuries and violence, reports The Los Angeles Times.
Ken Thorpe, professor of health policy at Emory University, doesn’t believe these numbers are accurate. He claims that the study doesn’t take into account for alcohol use, smoking and health insurance. Thorpe believes that obesity is being credited for more deaths than what it actually caused.
The rising number of Americans that suffer from obesity is what fuels businesses like Weight Watchers (WTW) and Curves, which specifically work to help people lose weight and stay healthy.