New Study Out of Loma Linda University Determines Prevention of Obesity through Healthy Lifestyle Choices Associated with Longer Life Expectancy in Black Adults

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Recently published study evaluates black adults in the United States, age 30 or older, and determines obesity continues to be a determining factor of mortality.

In the long-lived cohort of Black adults we studied, avoidance of obesity through plant-based diets and vigorous exercise was particularly effective in achieving longer life expectancy.

The obesity epidemic is at an all-time high with one-third of adults in the United States having a body mass index (BMI) > 30. At a time when health inequalities are a contributing factor in life expectancy, people want to know what they can do to live longer. A study out of Loma Linda University (LLU) found that weight control through plant-based diets and vigorous activity increased life expectancy by six years in Black Adults.

The study, “Obesity and Life Expectancy Among Long-Lived Black Adults,” has been published in “The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.” LLU researchers examined the relation between BMI and all-cause mortality among 22,884 Black adults, age 30 or older, from the US who are cohort members of the Adventist Health Study 2 (AHS-2).

“Our findings indicate that obesity remains an important risk factor in Black adults through at least age 85”, said Dr. Pramil Singh, lead author of the study and Director of LLU Center for Health Research. “In the long-lived cohort of Black adults we studied, avoidance of obesity through plant-based diets and vigorous exercise was particularly effective in achieving longer life expectancy. Further study of the wide range of plant foods in the Southern and Caribbean influenced diet patterns in this cohort should prove useful in designing preventive diets.”

The research team was able to conclude that obesity remains an important risk factor in Black adults through at least age 85 and that the non-obese lived about six years longer. The non-obese who experienced a six-year survival advantage tended to follow a plant based diet pattern and engage in vigorous exercise more than four times per week.

Dr. Gary Fraser, principal investigator of the study, affirms that since Black women are even more prone to obesity, the findings provide them an important pathway to longer life expectancy.

Dr. Patti Herring, one of the co-investigators, says, “This is vital information for addressing health inequalities and helping to narrow the health disparities gap in this country.”

In addition to BMI, the study considered factors such as diet pattern, physical activity, and disease history. Mortality surveillance began in 2002-2007 and ended in 2009.

Members of the Loma Linda University research team are, Gary E. Fraser, MD, PhD, Pramil N. Singh, DrPH; Ralph W. Clark, MD, MPH; Patti Herring, PhD; Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH; and David Shavlik, MSPH.

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Briana Pastorino
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