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Don’t Let Your Belly Shorten Your Life

Woman struggling to button a pair of tight trousers

If you’re worried about your waistline, you better do something about it. Researchers at Columbia University have calculated the odds of your bulging belly shortening your life. The frightening conclusion: Your life’s in more serious danger than you know.

“Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe,” says researcher Ryan Masters, Ph.D., who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “We expect that obesity will be responsible for an increasing share of deaths in the United States and perhaps even lead to declines in U.S. life expectancy.”

The researchers calculate that being obese now leads to the premature deaths of one in five Americans.

In the various groups the researchers analyzed, black women ran the greatest risk of dying from obesity or from being overweight: 27 percent. The risk for white women was 21 percent. Obesity in black women is nearly twice the rate of white women.

White men did better: only 15 percent died because of their bellies. And black men’s risk of dying from being very overweight is only 5 percent. But the researchers say black men don’t die of obesity because their lives are already shortened by tobacco-related illness, violence and other causes.

Carl Lowe

Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.