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Obesity Risks Could Outweigh Smoking

Obesity is fast becoming the world's leading cause of avoidable and premature deaths.

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A heavy health hazard. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

02/01/13

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Obesity is approaching smoking as the leading cause of avoidable and premature deaths around the world, new research finds. The obesity epidemic continues to rise in the United States—as well as across the globe—contributing to premature deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many more life-threatening conditions. "I am deeply concerned that the United States is the fattest society in the world and likely to be the fattest in the history of the world," says the study’s author Dr. Charles H. Hennekens. "Unfortunately, most people prefer prescription of pills to proscription of harmful lifestyles. I am, however, optimistic that weight loss of 5% or more combined with a brisk walk for 20 or more minutes daily will significantly reduce cardiovascular and total deaths." Published in the American Journal of Medicine, Hennekens’ report states that obesity is becoming a huge hazard worldwide, comparable to smoking cigarettes. The author notes that in the United States 40% of adults over forty have some form of metabolic syndrome—a precursor of diabetes. These adults have a ten-year risk of a coronary event of 16 to 18% that may even result in premature death and disability. Henneken warns: “Unless Americans lose weight and increase their levels of physical activity, cardiovascular disease will remain the leading killer in the US."

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