Thursday, January 7, 2010

Obesity Replaces Smoking as Top U.S. Health Threat

An article in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that obesity had a worse effect on people’s lives than smoking.

Researchers found that obesity is an equal, if not greater, contributor to the burden of disease and shortening of healthy life in comparison to smoking.

In a Canada.com article, Dr. Arya Sharma explained why obesity can be more dangerous than smoking.

"Health impacts of obesity are, in many ways, much larger, than the health impacts of smoking," said Dr. Sharma, "(Smoking) in the end, is limited to heart disease and cancer."

In contrast, obesity has a wide range of negative effects.

Obesity can lead to diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, joint replacement and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. Left untreated, OSA can make it more difficult to lose weight because it drains a person of energy. Treating OSA can help break this cycle.

This new study supports what health advocates have said for years.

This 15-year study included more than 3.5 million individuals. Interviews were conducted annually. Researchers tracked overall physical and mental health of the population.

From 1993 to 2008, the proportion of adult smokers decreased by 18.5 percent. During this time, the proportion of obese people increased by 85 percent.

Overall, smoking had a bigger impact on deaths. Obesity had a bigger impact on illness.

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