Researchers have called for obesity increased death risk to be considered when assessing overweight patients after it was claimed that the risk of obesity has been significantly underestimated because the condition is not being measured accurately.
Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology, researchers said that pre-existing risk calculations are focused on the severity of weight gain rather than for how long it occurs.
They also said that healthcare staff need to take into consideration that every decade spent being obese more than doubles death risk when assessing overweight patients.
Subsequently, the researchers are proposing that doctors start counting “obese years”, similar to the “pack-year” used for smoking,
This, according to the experts, would enable doctors and nurses to better estimate the associated health risks of being severely overweight.
The research team revealed that the duration of obesity has a direct effect on death risk, independent of other factors like age or how severely overweight a person is.
In the 5,036-patient study, the risk of dying rose by 7% for every additional two years spent being obese.
Those who were obese for 15 to 25 years were more than twice as likely to die as those who have never been obese, while the death risk was tripled for those who were obese for more than 25 years.
Dr Asnawi Abdullah, from Monash University in Australia, said: “Our study demonstrates that for every additional 10 years lived with obesity, the risks of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality more than doubled, implying that the risk of mortality associated with current obesity in adults might be significantly higher than in previous decades.”