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Obesity: The Inactivity Link

Jia found a strong link between physical inactivity among obese people and the impact on quality and length of life.

"No leisure time activity contributed to about 50% of the quality-adjusted life years lost due to obesity," he tells WebMD.

Health Burdens of Obesity: Second View

Although people are often aware of the diseases associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, there has been less focus on obesity’s effects on quality of life, says Peter Galier, MD, an internal medicine specialist and associate professor of medicine at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., who reviewed the analysis for WebMD.

''What they are saying here is, obesity, although it causes other medical problems, also affects not just the quantity of one's life but the quality of one's life," Galier tells WebMD.

“People who have obesity and hip pain develop arthritis and stop walking," he says. "They may not be a burden to the health care system, but their quality of life is markedly reduced. They can't stand in line at the grocery store."

The effect of obesity on quality of life becomes a vicious cycle, he says. As people get heavier, he says, "the hips hurt. They can't exercise. When they can't exercise, they get heavier."

The take-home message? "Don't just assume if you are obese and don't yet have medical problems that you are not losing quality of life," Galier says. "Your quality of life is at risk, as well as your quantity."

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