The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has issued a paper titled “Projecting the Effect of Changes in Smoking and Obesity on Future Life Expectancy in the United States.” Funded by the Social Security Administration and a grant from the National Institute on Aging, the research applied Markov modeling to National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys data from 1999 to 2008 to conclude that reductions in smoking rates coupled with increases in obesity will result in a gain of nearly one year of life expectancy for men and just a quarter of a year’s gain for women. According to the authors, “By 2040, male life expectancy at age 40 is expected to have gained 0.92 years from the combined effects. Among women, however, the two sets of effects largely offset one another throughout the projection period, with a small gain of 0.26 years expected by 2040.”

The researchers also project that by 2040, 47 percent of men and 51 percent of women will be obese with morbid obesity constituting “a majority of obese women by 2020 and thereafter.”