life expectancy

A bad idea for a Saturday night

If you are looking for a really bad idea on your journey to better health, I have one for you. If, like me, you are overweight, do not decide it is a good idea to look at life expectancy calculators.

On Saturday night my wife and I got back from an evening of listening to some music with friends. She settled in to watch some TV, and I was surfing around the net. I had an idea earlier in the day that a post about how I am improving my life expectancy by losing weight might be interesting.

I decided to go to some sites with calculators. What I found was stunning, and in some cases, down right depressing.

There are a lot of sites that will calculate your life expectancy. They ask a variety of questions starting with your age, gender and weight. Some ask a lot about lifestyle and diet, others ask less. What I found is that there is a lot of variability between the number and types of questions asked, and on the end results.

One really depressing site asked almost no questions, and told me I would be dead in 13 years. Yikes.

I came downstairs to talk to my wife and daughter about what I found. They both gave me quite a dose of being “bobbed”, as they reminded me about how unreliable many sites on the internet are. OK, point taken, as I have done the same with them many times in the past.

I took the night to give thought to my error, then looked again at the notes I had compiled.

The sites where I could answer more questions and do some modelling yielded the results I was seeking. I wanted to find out what the results would be for me, in terms of expectancy, if continue to lose weight and increase exercise.

According to the very unreliable sites on the internet, losing weight and increasing exercise will add between 4 and 10 years to my life expectancy.

What did I learn from my late night trip to the world wide web? Well, a couple of things.

1. I learned that my belief that there is a lot of BS on the internet is correct. Given the huge variability of information, it is clear to me that the “science” behind these predictions is suspect at best.

2. I learned that my words can come back to haunt me. Telling my wife and daughter that I am upset about something I found on on the internet is a great way for me to hear my own words come back to me.

3. I confirmed that by losing weight, and exercising more, I am increasing my life expectancy.

None of these are particularly earth shattering, but that last one is an affirmation that I am doing the right thing by becoming healthier.

No one can predict with any level of accuracy how long they will live. There are thousands of factors that can impact a person’s life expectancy. But, by doing the right things today I am increasing the odds of living to see many, many years to come.