MONTREAL -- Obesity can speed up a person's susceptibility to life-threatening diseases usually found in the elderly, according to a new study by Concordia University.

“We are trying to comprehensively make the argument that obesity parallels aging,” said Sylvia Santosa, Concordia professor of health, kinesiology and applied physiology, who led the research. “The mechanisms by which the comorbidities of obesity and aging develop are very similar.”

The study, published in the Obesity Reviews journal, finds that being overweight can increase a person's risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In fact, at the genetic level, obesity can influence a person's cognitive and mobility abilities, as well as induce hypertension and stress.

This phenomenon is also affecting children, Santosa notes, adding that children with obesity are increasingly developing adult diseases, like hypertension, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

“There is certainly something that is happening in obesity that is accelerating our aging process,” Santosa said. “I’m hoping that these observations will focus our approach to understanding obesity a little more, and at the same time allow us to think of obesity in different ways."

Across the world, an estimated 1.9 billion adults and 380 million children are classified as being overweight or obese.

Nowadays, more people die from being overweight than underweight, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).