1/07/03 - Obesity Calculator

We've heard how being overweight can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. Doctors believe they can now tell us how many years obesity can take off your life. 
If you're overweight when you're 40 years old , you'll likely shave three years off your life. Researchers also add that being overweight may be just as bad as smoking.
Therese Brown recently lost 15 pounds. She says she felt a little overweight before, but mainly dropped the weight because she had no energy. "I have a stressful job, it helps relieve a lot of stress and it gets addicting," she says. More people need to have that attitude.
Federal studies indicate about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, cutting years off their lives. Fitness trainer Scott Givens says, "They've had years of high cholesterol, their arteries have been clogged up and their heart has been working so hard."
The bigger you are, the harder it is on your heart. "In a normal heart, the heart is going to pump blood slowly and pump a lot of blood. The heavier they are the heart has to work harder and pump blood especially if you're inactive," Givens says.
In a study of more than 3,400 volunteers from 1948 to 1990, researchers found obese females who did not smoke, cut seven years off their lives. Obese non smoking men lost almost six years. The statistics for obese smokers are worse. Obese female smokers died seven years earlier than normal weight smokers, and thirteen years sooner than thin women who didn't smoke. Obese male smokers died an average of seven years earlier than trim smokers, almost 14 years sooner than trim men who didn't smoke.
Even though damage is done over time, it's never too late to kick the bad habits and get healthier. "It's diet, it's nutrition, it's balanced living," Givens says. "It took them forty years to get here, so it's going to take them longer than a week to get the results they want."
The findings from the study are in Tuesday's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.