Obesity is a lot more deadly than previously thought. Across recent decades, obesity accounted for 18 percent of deaths among Black and White Americans between the ages of 40 and 85, according to scientists. This finding challenges the prevailing wisdom among scientists, which puts that portion at around 5%.
…This study is the first to account for differences in age, birth cohort, sex, and race in analyzing Americans’ risk for death from obesity. “Past research in this area lumped together all Americans, but obesity prevalence and its effect on mortality differ substantially based on your race or ethnicity, how old you are, and when you were born,” says Dr. Masters. “It’s important for policy-makers to understand that different groups experience obesity in different ways.” The researchers analyzed 19 waves of the National Health Interview Survey linked to individual mortality records in the National Death Index for the years 1986 to 2006, when the most recent data are available. They focused on ages 40 to 85 in order to exclude accidental deaths, homicides, and congenital conditions that are the leading causes of death for younger people.
…In the groups studied, Black women had the highest risk of dying from obesity or being overweight at 27 percent, followed by White women at 21 percent. Obesity in Black women is nearly twice that of White women. White men fared better at 15%, and the lowest risk for dying from being obese was 5%, for Black men. While White men and Black men have similar rates of obesity, the effect of obesity on mortality is lower in Black men because it is “crowded out” by other risk factors, from high rates of cigarette smoking to challenging socioeconomic conditions. There were insufficient data to make estimates for Asians, Hispanics, and other groups due to the highly stratified nature of the methodology.