European Congress on Obesity
European Congress on Obesity
May 05, 2019
1 min read

Elimination of obesity could drastically reduce premature mortality

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Premature mortality rates related to noncommunicable disease could be cut by as much as 31% by 2030 in some countries assuming a population without obesity, according to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity.

Niels Lund

“Obesity is an important risk factor for premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases, and addressing obesity (through prevention and treatment) is required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal on health,” Niels Lund, MSc, MBA, vice president of Changing Diabetes at Novo Nordisk, told Endocrine Today. “We must address obesity as any other noncommunicable disease.”

Lund said the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal aims to eliminate one-third of premature deaths related to noncommunicable disease in the next 10 years. To identify what would need to happen for such a goal to be met, Lund and colleagues created a BMI mortality model. The model projects noncommunicable disease mortality rates in three scenarios associated with BMI change. The researchers performed projections for 200 countries using population estimates from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration.

The first scenario projects mortality rates in countries based on linear progression of obesity, finding a range of 11,220 (Denmark) to 205,256 (Mexico) premature deaths by 2030. In the second scenario, deemed the “status quo scenario,” obesity rates would remain static for the next decade, leading to a 5% to 7% reduction in premature deaths. In the final scenario, there would be no cases of overweight or obesity, and this could lead to a 25% to 31% reduction in premature deaths, according to researchers.

“If we could eliminate obesity from one day to the other, that would get us to the [Sustainable Development Goal]. Of course, this is not realistic, but it shows the big role that obesity plays in premature mortality from [noncommunicable diseases],” Lund said, adding that the finding “shows that the earlier we address [noncommunicable diseases] through prevention and treatment, the better.” – by Phil Neuffer


Sun T, et al. Linking obesity and the Sustainable Development Goals: A new model for projecting BMI-related premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases. Presented at: European Congress on Obesity; April 28-May 1, 2019; Glasgow, Scotland.

Disclosure: Lund reports he is an employee and shareholder of Novo Nordisk.