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Today's children may be facing shorter life span


Active Member
Sep 10, 2004
For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in the United States may have shorter life expectancies than their parents, according to a new report, which contends that the rapid rise in childhood obesity, if left unchecked, could shorten life spans by as much as five years.

The report, to be published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, says the prevalence and severity of obesity are so great, especially in children, that the associated diseases and complications -- Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, cancer -- are likely to strike people at younger and younger ages.

The report, which wades into several controversial aspects of public health, is likely to stir debate on both scientific and political grounds. The health effects of being obese depend on many factors, such as one's fitness level. And estimating those effects could alter the expected cost of medical care and the size of pension payouts.

The report says the average life expectancy of today's adults, roughly 77 years, is at least four to nine months shorter than it would be if there were no obesity. That means that obesity is already shortening average life spans at a greater rate than accidents, homicides and suicides combined, the authors say.

And they say that because of obesity, the children of today could wind up living two to five years less than they otherwise would, a negative effect on life span that could be greater than that caused by cancer or coronary heart disease.