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Extreme Obesity Takes Years Off Life: Report

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People who are extremely obese -- 80 pounds or more heavier than a normal weight -- die three to 12 years sooner than normal-weight individuals. But people who are just overweight or moderately obese tend to live a normal life span, a new study found, according to USA Today.

The finding mirrors earlier research that found that being slightly overweight may have no impact on life expectancy, but being severely overweight can shorten life spans dramatically, the newspaper said.

According to U.S. health officials, an estimated 66 percent of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. About one-third are obese, meaning they have a body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) or 30 or more. About 6 percent of people are extremely obese, with a BMI of 40 or greater.

The study, done by economists at RTI International, a non-profit research organization in Research Triangle Park, N.C., analyzed national data on 366,000 people.

Study lead author Eric Finkelstein said being moderately overweight may not shorten life spans because there are many effective treatments to manage the health problems often brought on by excess weight, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, the newspaper reported.

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