Attempts to cajole people into losing weight are often met with mixed results. Diet pill this. Exercise machine that. Still the obesity epidemic rages among young people.Now, the effects are being quantified into a shocking number. 8 years off your lifespan.

Obesity is linked to numerous diseases that can lead to premature death. Everything from heart disease to Type 2 diabetes. Researchers at McGill University in Canada used the data from the correlated diseases to draw a roadmap for an obese man in their 20s.

You’re probably already miserable at the time, but when you hit your 50s you will start to feel the effects of debilitating diseases. By age 71, you could be dead, a full eight years off the normal human lifespan. So 19 years of misery followed by death. I think we should all work to enjoy our twilight years, not carry around a prescription medicine caddy.

Lead researcher, Paul Grover from McGill, points out the pattern is clear.

“The more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health, as they have many years ahead of them during which the increased health risks associated with obesity can negatively impact their lives.”

“These calculations should prove useful for obese individuals and health professionals to better appreciate the scale of the problem and the substantial benefits of a healthier lifestyle including changes to diet and regular physical activity.”

It isn’t just obesity that is knocking off years of your life. Even being overweight knocks off years – up to three. Plus, your health will generally be worse than a person in the normal BMI range.

The good news is that the trend is entirely reversible. No, doctors aren’t saying compete in the next Crossfit challenges. But, you should not treat the buffet like an Olympic level event. It is all about a balanced diet and exercise. We know the mantra. Just follow it.

Accompanying the study was an editorial by Edward Gregg, chief of epidemiology at the diabetes branch of the DC. “There has been progress in reducing death rates from heart disease, and there is good evidence that lifestyle changes and regular preventive care can reduce diabetes, heart disease and the disability that follows,” Gregg said.

So, it’s all about choices. Everyone can make the choice to eat better, and get off the couch. Trust me, that reality show will still be on there. Plus, it gives time for the DVR to catch up. Everyone hates commercials and wants to live longer. Win-win.

The full study was published in this week’s Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

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