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expert reaction to conference poster looking at BMI, ill health and death

A conference poster presented at the European Congress on Obesity states that adults with severe obesity class III are 12 times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Individuals with obesity class I are at 70% higher risk of developing heart failure.

Dr Katarina Kos, Senior Lecturer in Diabetes and Obesity Research, University of Exeter Medical School, said:

“It is well known that obesity is linked to high risk of co-morbidities and reduced life expectancy.  The study population presented in this work is no exception and confirms this.  It is unclear over which exact time period people were studied, the data which is not yet fully published implies that within about 10 years there is substantial increases in comorbidities which are much higher the larger the BMI.  It is known that the risk of Type 2 diabetes exponentially increases with a rise in BMI.  Evidence is also increasing that both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea improve with energy reduction and weight loss.  Giving the health risk of obesity, it is time to move away from considering obesity as a life style choice, instead we all have to take responsibility of our future health.  We cannot assume that we get away with it.  As this study shows, it may just be a matter of time.”

Dr Rishi Caleyachetty, Assistant Professor in Academic Primary Care, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, said:

“This study highlights findings which we have already known for a long time.  It has been shown beyond the point of reasonable doubt that obesity is a risk factor for chronic diseases.  What is now required, is for the Department of Health & Social Care to recognise obesity as a disease and adequately fund obesity services across the UK.”

Dr Hutan Ashrafian, Chief Scientific Adviser, Institute of Global Health Innovation, and Senior Clinical Fellow in Surgery, Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“This large study highlights the increasing societal impact of obesity on healthcare through the measure of BMI representing obesity levels.  Whilst BMI is not the ideal route of assessing body fat, the large size of this study demonstrates the real effects of obesity in terms of cardiovascular conditions ranging from diabetes, heart disease and strokes.  Whilst this work is not the first to use these administrative data-sets to show the negative effects of raised BMI on the UK population, it does reinforce how increasing BMI levels affect different body systems to different degrees (such as the heart, diabetes and respiratory system).

“The future of this work should assess how managing obesity through the wide variety of existing and future interventions can affect these diseases.  In addition, to examine to what extent we should be focusing our efforts on prevention behaviours, diet, exercise or even medical treatments and surgery to manage the complications of obesity on large populations.”

Prof Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine, University of Glasgow, said:

“This study serves to remind us, once again, how damaging obesity is given its strong associations with a range conditions beyond diabetes and heart disease.  The obesity links to heart failure are becoming more widely appreciated and links to sleep apnoea, hypertension and abnormal blood fats are well known.  Like most observational BMI studies using routine health data, there are limitations to this work but I suspect some risks are in fact underestimated.  The health profession needs to up its game in helping people improve their weight (there are good signs that it is doing so) as it is unlikely that food environment is going to drastically improve anytime soon.”

Abstract title: ‘BMI and risk of obesity-related outcomes in a large UK population-representative cohort: a CPRD/HES study’ by Haase, C. L et al.  This is a conference poster that was discussed at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow. There is no paper as this is not published work.

Declared interests

Dr Katarina Kos: “I have no interest to declare.”

Dr Rishi Caleyachetty: “I have no conflict of interest.”

Prof Naveed Sattar: “I have consulted for Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Astrazeneca on diabetes drugs which may also be targeted for weight loss.”

None others received.

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