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Call for new way to measure obesity

Call for new way to measure obesity Risk of death doubles over a decade

The health impact of obesity is being underestimated because the condition is not being measured accurately, experts say.

This is because its impact is being measured on the basis of how much weight is gained, rather than how long the weight gain stays.

The researchers, led by Dr Asnawi Adbullah from Monash University in Australia, are calling for the introduction of a new way to measure obesity - the obese year.

They say the length of time a person is obese has a direct effect on their risk of death, irrespective of age or the degree to which they are overweight.

The researchers analysed the records of 5,036 people in the US whose health was assessed every two years over decades.

They found that the risk of death increased by 7 per cent for every two years of being obese.

"Our study demonstrates that for every additional 10 years lived with obesity, the risks of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality more than doubled, implying that the risk of mortality associated with current obesity in adults might be significantly higher than in previous decades," the researchers wrote.

The researchers also warned that because obesity now occurs at a younger age, today's children are likely to have shorter life spans.

The introduction of a new way of measuring obesity would help with the estimation of associated health risks.

The issue of obesity is a pressing one, with one out of four adults in the UK overweight.

If the current trends continue, 75 per cent of the population will be affected by the effects of excess weight within 10 to 15 years.

This article was published on Tue 23 August 2011

Image © Sheila Eames - Fotolia.com

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