Q. I heard on the news recently that this generation of Americans is the first for a long time in which children can be expected to die before their parents. This can’t be true, can it?

A. I would like to be able to tell you honestly that “this can’t be true.” Unfortunately, it is true—according to a research letter published online June 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.  The letter reported that approximately 40% of men and 30% of women in the USA are overweight; 35% of men and 37% of women are obese. Lin Yang, PhD, and Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered between 2007 and 2012. The data reviewed involved 15,208 men and women age 25 and older.

Conclusions? Researchers estimate that more than 36 million men and nearly 29 million women in the United States are currently overweight. About 32 million men and 36 million women are obese. More Americans are overweight and obese today compared with federal survey data gathered between 1988 and 1994. Today, about 75% of men and about 67% of women are either overweight or obese, according to the study.

So in answer to your questions, according to Dr. Yang, the answer is (unfortunately) yes. He reported: “This generation of Americans is the first that will have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation, and obesity is one of the biggest contributors to this shortened life expectancy because it is driving a lot of chronic health conditions.”
The only thing I know of to do is to become a committee of one and adopt a Longevity Lifestyle for yourself. It matters! Being overweight or obese is hard on your brain—to say nothing of your body and heart—and can negatively impact your longevity.

Yang L Colditz GA. JAMA Internal Med. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2405.