Does it matter if I am overweight?

3. Important co-morbidities of obesity.

  • Roy J. Shephard


Objective. The objective of this narrative review is to consider the impact of various levels of obesity upon the risks of premature mortality, a reduced-quality-adjusted life span, and various clinically important co-morbidities. Methods. Information obtained from Ovid/Medline and Google Scholar through to November 2018 was supplemented by a search of the author's extensive personal files.   Results. Overweight has only a limited adverse effect upon these several risks, but dangers increase steeply with further fat accumulation; thus severe (type III) obesity greatly augments the risk of premature death, shortening a person's average lifespan by several years. In addition, the obese individual faces a substantial loss of quality-adjusted life years due to effects from various co-morbidities, including (in order of importance to health expectancy) problems arising from the heart and circulation, neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, vascular diseases of the brain, pneumonia and influenza, digestive and renal diseases, accidents and homicides. Various potential covariates of obesity have been considered in epidemiological analyses, but if habitual physical activity has been considered at all, it has typically been represented by a weak questionnaire assessment. Nevertheless, evidence is emerging that obesity and an inadequate level of habitual physical activity have at least partially independent adverse effects upon both life expectancy and quality-adjusted life span. Conclusions. Severe obesity has a substantial negative effect upon both life expectancy and quality-adjusted life span, thus providing yet one more good reason for health practitioners to advocate maintenance of an ideal body mass.

Author Biography

Roy J. Shephard
Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto
How to Cite
Shephard, R. (2018). Does it matter if I am overweight?. The Health & Fitness Journal of Canada, 11(4), 3-65.