Previous studies on the impact of obesity on life expectancy focused on the United States or a single calendar year. In light of the important differences between European countries in both obesity prevalence and life expectancy over time, our aim was to assess the impact of obesity on long-term trends in life expectancy across a wide range of European countries. We found that, in the 26 European countries studied, the share of mortality due to obesity in 2012 was, on average, 11% among men and 10% among women. The potential gain in life expectancy if obesity-attributable mortality would be eliminated (= PGLE) in 2012 ranged from 0.86 to 1.73 years among men, and from 0.66 to 1.54 years among women. Overall, PGLE increased between 1975 and 2012, albeit more quickly among men (average annual increase: 2.68%) than among women (1.33%). Among women in Denmark, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe the increase in PGLE levelled off after 1995. Without obesity, the average increase in e0 between 1975 and 2012 would have been 0.78 years higher among men and 0.30 years higher among women. Obesity, thus, clearly has a negative impact on both life expectancy levels and trends in Europe. The differences we observed in the impact of obesity across countries and between the sexes can be linked to contextual factors (economic conditions, obesogenic environment, energy supplies), as well as to differences in people’s ability and capacity to adopt healthier lifestyles.
The Chapter is an adaptation of the journal article: Vidra, N., Trias-Llimós, S. and Janssen, F. (2019). Impact of obesity on life expectancy among different European countries: secondary analysis of population-level data over the 1975–2012 period. BMJ Open 9(7): e028086. In addition, input has been used from the popular version of the article: Janssen, F., Vidra, N. and S. Trias-Llimós (2020) Impact of obesity on life expectancy levels and trends in Europe. N-IUSSP: IUSSP’s online news magazine. January 13, 2020. See: https://www.niussp.org/article/impact-of-obesity-on-life-expectancy-levels-and-trends-in-europe/#more-4192
The summary above uses sentences from the original abstract of the article in BMJ Open.
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The authors are grateful to Professor Majid Ezatti and Dr. James Bentham (Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health at Imperial College London); Dr. Gretchen A. Stevens (World Health Organization); and the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC) (www.ncdrisc.org) for sharing the obesity data.
This work is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the research programme “Smoking, alcohol, and obesity, ingredients for improved and robust mortality projections, grant no. 452-13-001”. See www.futuremortality.com.
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Vidra, N., Trias-Llimós, S., Janssen, F. (2022). Impact of Obesity on Life Expectancy Among Different European Countries, 1975–2012. In: Garcia-Alexander, G., Poston, Jr., D.L. (eds) International Handbook of the Demography of Obesity. International Handbooks of Population, vol 12. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-10936-2_4
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