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Excess Weight Ages Us More Quickly

We all know that being overweight or obese can pose threats to our health, especially at a young age. But what effects does overweight or obesity have on the actual aging process?

Obese Children Become Obese Adults

First and foremost, this obesity epidemic is having a profound effect on our nation's children. One-third of the children in America are either overweight or obese. As a result, these children are experiencing health problems that previously only plagued our nation's adults, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

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Studies have shown that overweight or obese children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults. Not only does obesity increase the risk of multiple health issues, new research is revealing that it ages us more quickly. A large study out of London found that obesity speeds up the aging process more significantly than smoking. A group of scientists from both the United States and Britain found evidence that fat speeds up aging by accelerating the uncoiling of vitally important DNA structures inside our cells. The researchers discovered that the excess weight a person carries causes his or her cells to seem older on a molecular level.

These researchers concluded that being overweight or obese adds up to nearly nine years of age to your body. Therefore, if the serious health risks associated with being overweight or obese aren't scary enough to motivate you to get healthy, possibly your vanity will. Unfortunately, since our nation is as obsessed with youth as it is with thinness, you may feel extra pressure to look young in addition to the already-overwhelming pressure to be thin. If you consider the fact that those extra pounds can make your body almost a decade older, being overweight or obese is aging you more than you might think.

Obesity Affects Quality of Life

Not only does overweight and obesity impact the length of life, it also impacts the quality of life. The negative health impact this has on our bodies makes life more difficult, painful, and costly - and less enjoyable. Excess weight can affect our joints, thereby making it more difficult and uncomfortable to be physically active. Not only can it hinder our ability to make it through a workout session, it could make life's daily activities more difficult. Bathing, dressing, and even eating are harder for people with excess weight, especially older Americans. Ongoing problems such as difficulty breathing, fatigue, and depression increase the likelihood that one will have a harder time completing activities of daily living.

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Whatever your reason for wanting to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, it's important to start now. The longer you wait to lose, the more you have to lose in terms of years of healthy life.


Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.



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