Should Obesity be Viewed as Premature Ageing?

Posted on 26 February 2020

A past review from 2019 discusses how obesity can accelerate the ageing process.
Salvestrini, V., Sell, C., & Lorenzini, A. (2019). Obesity May Accelerate the Aging Process. Frontiers In Endocrinology10. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2019.00266

The suggestion may seem surprising, but a paper published in the journal Obesity Reviews argues that we should regard obesity as a form of premature ageing.

After reviewing over 200 studies, researchers concluded that obesity directly accelerates a variety of ageing mechanisms. These include:

  • Genetic and epigenetic changes: shortening of telomeres and changes in DNA methylation patterns
  • Increased cell suicide (apoptosis) and reduced waste disposal (autophagy)
  • Cognitive decline and increased risk of dementia
  • Weakening and dysfunction of the immune system, systemic inflammation
  • Increased risk of cancer

Professor Sylvia Santosa noticed that many obese children developed “adult-onset” diseases such as diabetes. This was the inspiration for her research. She suggests that changing the way we think of obesity might help innovate new ways to treat it.

I’m hoping that these observations will focus our approach to understanding obesity a little more, and at the same time allow us to think of obesity in different ways. We’re asking different types of questions than that which have traditionally been asked.

New study shows the effects of obesity mirror those of aging. (2020). Retrieved 26 February 2020, from


Obesity and ageing: Two sides of the same coin:

New study shows the effects of obesity mirror those of aging:

Obesity May Accelerate the Aging Process:

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