Obesity Risks Could Outweigh Smoking

By Valerie Tejeda 02/01/13

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

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A heavy health hazard. Photo via

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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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.