Weight Loss Facts

CDC: Obesity approaching tobacco as top preventable cause of death

Excess weight is an independent risk factor for coronary disease, in addition to its contribution to the incidence of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, & hypertension.

In a recent government study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that obesity is fast approaching tobacco as the top underlying preventable cause of death in the USA.

Thirty-four percent of U.S. adults are considered overweight, and an additional 31 percent are obese.

The results of the new study appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In 2000, poor diet including obesity and physical inactivity caused 400,000 U.S. deaths -- more than 16 percent of all deaths and the No. 2 killer. That compares with 435,000 for tobacco, or 18 percent, as the top underlying killer.

According to the study the gap between the two is substantially narrower than in 1990, when poor diet and inactivity caused 300,000 deaths, 14 percent, compared with 400,000 for tobacco, or 19 percent, says a report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Like tobacco, obesity and inactivity increase the risks for the top three killers: heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular ailments including strokes. Obesity and inactivity also strongly increase the risk of diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death.

The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75,000), toxic agents (55,000), motor vehicle crashes (43,000), incidents involving firearms (29,000), sexual behaviors (20,000), and illicit use of drugs (17,000).

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