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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Obesity rivals smoking as hazardous to health

18th March 2009

UK researchers have said obesity could be as dangerous to a person's health as "a lifetime of smoking".


A team at Oxford University said being severely obese could potentially shorten lifespan by ten years and being moderately obese could cut lifespan by three years.

The research by the Clinical Trial Service Unit was published in The Lancet. The study reviewed information collected from nearly one million people worldwide.

25% of adults in the UK are obese and have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30.

The researchers found that "each incremental rise" in BMI above the healthy limits of 20-25 cause an increase in the danger of a person dying prematurely.

If a person had a BMI of 40 to 50 - around 2% of UK adults do - this shortened lifespan by a decade.

People who were moderately obese and had a BMI of 30-39 - a quarter of UK adults fall within these parameters - this shortened lifespan by three years.

The danger of being obese is related to the increase in heart disease, cancer and stroke.  The team estimated that a quarter of deaths from heart attack or stroke in middle-aged patients in the UK were because of obesity.

Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation, said: "This is the latest and most convincing demonstration of the close relationship between being overweight and poor heart health."

Epidemiologist Dr Gary Whitlock of Oxford University, who led the analysis, said: ''In countries like Britain and America, weighing a third more than the optimum shortens lifespan by about three years."


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