Obesity and ageing: Two sides of the same coin

Bjorn T. Tam, Jose A. Morais, Sylvia Santosa*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    112 Citations (Scopus)


    Conditions and comorbidities of obesity mirror those of ageing and age-related diseases. Obesity and ageing share a similar spectrum of phenotypes such as compromised genomic integrity, impaired mitochondrial function, accumulation of intracellular macromolecules, weakened immunity, shifts in tissue and body composition, and enhanced systemic inflammation. Moreover, it has been shown that obesity reduces life expectancy by 5.8 years in men and 7.1 years in women after the age of 40. Shorter life expectancy could be because obesity holistically accelerates ageing at multiple levels. Besides jeopardizing nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA integrity, obesity modifies the DNA methylation pattern, which is associated with epigenetic ageing in different tissues. Additionally, other signs of ageing are seen in individuals with obesity including telomere shortening, systemic inflammation, and functional declines. This review aims to show how obesity and ageing are “two sides of the same coin” through discussing how obesity predisposes an individual to age-related conditions, illness, and disease. We will further demonstrate how the mechanisms that perpetuate the early-onset of chronic diseases in obesity parallel those of ageing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere12991
    JournalObesity Reviews
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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