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Obesity is now claiming the lives of nearly one out of every five Americans, cites a report from Columbia University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The impact of obesity on our health is not new information. But the study found that the numbers of obesity-related deaths are three times higher than previous estimates, notes Dr. Mercola. “The younger you are, the greater obesity’s influence on your mortality,” he writes, adding that obesity “is not protective if you’re elderly.”

According to the researchers, it is “imperative for the US public and those who construct policy for that public to recognize that population health and more than a century of steady gains in life expectancy are being jeopardized by the obesity epidemic.” They add, “Indeed, evidence has already implicated high rates of obesity as a significant contributor to the United States’ relatively low life expectancy among high-income countries.”

A body mass index of 25 or higher was associated with greater risks of deaths. The most at-risk group was black women (26.8 percent), followed by white women (21.7 percent), white men (15. 6 percent) and black men (5 percent).

But Dr. Mercola notes the situation could be even more severe: “[T]he number of people who meet the criteria for obesity is MUCH higher—possibly even twice as high! Even without adjusting for body fat, if obesity trends are accurate, societal impacts will be far worse by 2030. Rates of “extreme obesity” (people with a BMI above 40) have risen by 350 percent over the past few years.”

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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