Living longer doesn't always mean living better--and for too many people, those later years are anything but golden.
Now, researchers have found a new way to show what's a stake when bellies get big and knees buckle under the weight: lost years, even if you happen to be using them while you're losing them.
How can that be? Easy: The years aren't lost to death... but to pain and poor health.
For example, someone with obesity and osteoarthritis in both knees--usually caused by that obesity--might live as long as someone who has neither condition... but lose 3.5 years to chronic pain and misery, according to the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
That's a lot of time lost to pain.
Someone who is obese but manages to avoid knee osteoarthritis will lose 2.5 years to pain and suffering, while slim people who suffer from knee osteoarthritis will lose about 1.9 years.
The shame of it is that both conditions are preventable: You can lose weight and keep osteoarthritis at bay by committing to simple lifestyle changes.
But these aren't tiny, incremental changes--and that's where the new study falls apart, because the researchers insist that just dropping a few pounds can make all the difference in the world.
They say that losing just 3.74 pounds, for example, would eliminate 178,000 cases of heart disease and 890,000 cases of diabetes.
It's highly unlikely that someone who's 250 pounds will somehow have a better, healthier life than someone who's 253.74 pounds.
The fact is, if you want to avoid obesity, diabetes, knee osteoarthritis and more, you need to bring your weight under control--and that means doing something far more dramatic than cutting back to an Extra Value Meal every other day instead of five times a week.
No one likes to be lectured about weight so I'll keep this short and sweet: If you've put on a few too many pounds over the years--and don't feel too bad about it, because you're hardly alone--the best way to make sure you'll reach a ripe, old age and have the power to enjoy those later years is to lose the weight now.