Impact of obesity on trends in life expectancy among different European countries, 1975-2012

N. Vidra, S. Trias Llimós, Fanny Janssen

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During the last 20 years, a threefold increase in obesity prevalence has occurred in Europe, which is likely to affect trends in life expectancy. Previous studies on the impact of obesity on populations’ life expectancy focused on the United States or only provided estimates for a single year. We assessed the impact of obesity on life expectancy for 30 European national populations over the period 1975 to 2012.

We calculated obesity-attributable mortality fractions by applying the weighted sum method to obesity prevalence data (NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016) and age and sex
specific European RRs (DYNAMO). We estimated potential gains in life expectancy (PGLE) by eliminating obesity attributable mortality using associated single decrement life tables. All-cause mortality and exposure data came from the Human Mortality Database.

In the 30 European countries studied, the PGLE due to obesity in 2012 ranged from 0.86 to 1.73 years among men, and from 0.66 to 1.54 years among women. In all studied European
countries, the PGLE increased over time, from average levels of 0.48 (men) and 0.65 (women) years in 1975, to average levels of 1.23 (men) and 1.00 (women) years in 2012. Time trends in
PGLE ranged from an annual increase of 2.63 to 8.76 percent among men, and from 0.09 to 5.99 percent among women. In some countries (Denmark, Switzerland, women in Eastern
European countries) the increase is leveling off.

The impact of obesity on life expectancy is increasing over time in Europe, especially among men. The leveling off as observed
in some western European countries could potentially point to successful anti-obesity public health initiatives.

Key messages:
Important differences in the impact of obesity on life expectancy between European countries exist. Although the effect of obesity on life expectancy is generally increasing over time in Europe, some European countries witnessed a leveling off.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-276
Number of pages2
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numbersuppl. 3
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2017
Event10th European Public Health Conference Sustaining resilient and healthy communities - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 1-Nov-20174-Nov-2017


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