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New Study Suggests Fewer Suicides in Obese People


People who are obese may lead to numerous health problems and death, however obesity is linked to fewer suicides according to a new study.

Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, looked at rates of suicide and obesity in U.S. states in 2004 and 2005. He discovered that on average, about a quarter of adults studied were classified as obese based on their body mass index. Dr Mukamal’s study is concluding that there are fewer suicides in obese people.

On average, there were about 12 suicides per 100,000 adults. However, with each 3 percent increase in obesity in a given state, there were 3 fewer suicides per 100,000 adults, they report in the journal Obesity. The states that had the highest rates of obesity were the same states that had the lowest rates of suicide. After researchers took those factors into account, however, the obesity-suicide relationship remained consistent.

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Suicide is the 11th cause of death in the United States and every 18 minutes another person dies to suicide. Obesity is however responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and many adult Americans are in danger of suffering from diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, and cancer because of this. Additionally, obese individuals are 10 to 50 percent more likely to die from the above diseases.

Mukamal said more definitive studies are needed to confirm the link and figure out what is responsible for it. For example, the authors speculate that poisonings may be less lethal in the obese because they require higher doses, and that suffocation may be less common because "the steps involved in hanging may be burdensome (and) uncomfortable" in obese people.

Mukamal has suggested that more studies would be needed to confirm this. "More people die from suicide in the U.S. than from homicide, noted Mukamal. Yet, we know of very few ways to prevent suicide. What this study thus far did show is that there are fewer suicides in obese people.

Materials from World News and Suicide and Mental Health Organization are used in this report

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth