Jump to content

Obesity gains on smoking as top cause of US death

Recommended Posts

One part of this bothered me so i had to post.

Obesity gains on smoking as top cause of US death

By Maggie Fox, Reuters, 3/9/2004

WASHINGTON -- Obesity is quickly overtaking smoking as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, government researchers said Tuesday, and other research shows its adverse health effects could soon wipe out many recent improvements in health.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows tobacco use was still the leading cause of death in 2000, killing 435,000 people, or 18.1 percent of everyone who died.

But poor diet and physical inactivity caused 400,000 deaths, or 16.6 percent of the total, the report showed.

An estimated 129.6 million Americans, or 64 percent of the population, are overweight or obese.

If Americans continue to get fatter at current rates, by 2020 about one in five health care dollars spent on people aged 50 to 69 could be due to obesity -- 50 percent more than now -- according to a separate study by the Rand Corporation.

"Americans need to understand that overweight and obesity are literally killing us," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a statement.

"To know that poor eating habits and inactivity are on the verge of surpassing tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable death in America should motivate all Americans to take action to protect their health. We need to tackle America's weight issues as aggressively as we are addressing smoking and tobacco."


The Department of Health and Human Services launched a public relations campaign Tuesday stressing that people do not need to shake up their lives to lose weight, but can take small steps such as walking to work sometimes or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

The Rand study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found that in 2000, 14 percent of money spent on health care for American men aged 50 to 69 went to obesity-related complications including diabetes and heart disease. In 2020, that could rise to 21 percent.

"Improvements in medical care, public health and other health behaviors have dramatically reduced disability among older Americans in the past," Roland Sturm, a Rand Health senior economist who led the study, said in a statement.

"But the continuing increase in unhealthy weight has the potential to undo many of these health advances."

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index -- a ratio of weight to height -- of more than 30. That usually means being 30 pounds overweight for a woman and 35 to 40 pounds overweight for a man of average height.

More than 30 percent of U.S. adults are obese, according to the CDC. That translates to 59 million people.

Serious health implications, such as heart disease and diabetes risk, kick in at BMIs of 30 and above.

The Rand team predicts the proportion of people aged 50 to 69 with disabilities will increase by 18 percent for men and by 22 percent for women between 2000 and 2020.

Annual average health care costs for moderately obese people were 20 to 30 percent higher than health care costs for those of normal weight -- those with BMIs of 20 to 25, Rand said.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni called for more research on obesity.

"There is no single cause of all human obesity, so we must explore prevention and treatment approaches that encompass many aspects, such as behavioral, sociocultural, socioeconomic, environmental, physiologic and genetic factors," he said in a statement.

This year, NIH funding for obesity research is $400.1 million. The budget request for fiscal year 2005 is $440.3 million, 10 percent more.

© Copyright 2004 Reuters. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Reuters or its third-party content providers. Any copying, republication, or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw a very funny commercial this morning on the news, where a man turned in two lumps of flesh he found by the stairs in the office building. The guard said, yep, you'd be surprised how many people lose their love handles taking the stairs!!!!! It was a funny visual.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.