“People can come up with statistics to prove anything, 14% of all people know this.” – Homer Simpson.

About a year ago I was at a party and feeling buzzy and did just that, made up a statistic. I don’t recall the exact statistic I made up, but it went something like this: “One has a shorter life expectancy having been diagnosed with Obesity at the age of 30 than HIV”. Turns out, this is exactly right. As inflammatory (to both groups of diagnosis) as it is, it seems to me to be true. I present the following as an interesting science mashup. The idea and work comes from a number of articles but since this is not peer reviewed I will limit it to the most pertinent. Fontaine et. al. (JAMA 2003) provided the age/BMI dependence of years of life lost (YLL).

I’ve lost the reference for the age dependence of YLL in HIV, though here is the chart.

The decade dependence is from Hogg et. al. (Lancet 2008). These are synthesized in the following chart.

You can see that your life expectancy from the age of 30 is about the same whether you have a BMI of 44 or HIV. I’ve put a BMI of 34 in here as a reference for what we common think of as a “fat” person. It’s also clear to see how far we’ve come with anti-retroviral drugs in the past 10 years. It’s tough to say what this graph will look like 10 years from now, likely HIV will be on par with a BMI of 34, a weight much more common in our current society.