Among more than 9,500 Americans surveyed, obesity was associated with higher rates of chronic medical problems and a poorer quality of life than was alcohol abuse, smoking and poverty.
What's more, there are more overweight and obese adults in the US today than there are smokers or problem drinkers, according to findings published in the current issue of the British journal Public Health.
While 36% of respondents were overweight and 23% were obese, about 14% were poor, 6% heavy drinkers and 19% daily smokers.
These findings highlight the need for public programs that target obesity rates in America.
Americans haven't given overweight the same attention as other risks, like smoking, but it is clearly a top health problem and one that is on the rise in all segments of the population.
These findings reinforce prior recommendations that weight control become a higher national priority, especially given the dramatic increases in prevalence of overweight.
Resreachers analyzed data from interviews with adults nationwide regarding their height, weight, income, smoking and drinking habits and chronic medical conditions.
People who smoked throughout their lives and lived in poverty were significantly more likely to have a chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis or heart disease. But the effects of smoking and poverty were smaller than those of obesity on both a person's health and quality of life.
Obesity is highly prevalent and associated with at least as much morbidity in terms of chronic medical conditions and reduction in physical health-related quality-of-life as are poverty, smoking, and problem drinking.
Obesity has been shown to raise the risk of
- heart disease
- high blood pressure and certain types of cancer
But research also shows that while even modest weight loss can improve health, Americans continue to pack on the pounds.
Public Health June 2001;115:229-235
Manypeople disagree with my recommendation to not stop smokingand to focus on the sugar restriction, as it is a far moreimportant contribution to bad health than cigarettes. Grainsbreak down rapidly to sugar and contribute significantlyto weight gain and obesity and also need to be restricted.
This study tends to validate thatassessment. Not completely, but close enough.
The confounding variables are thatnot all people who eat sugar become obese, any many obesepeople do not eat sugar.
However, the observation seems tobe accurate in the vast majority of individuals.
This is especially true when oneis attempting to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Most smokersseem to stop smoking prior to improving their diet.
I believe this is a terrible mistakeas most smokers invariably choose more junk food to compensatefor their loss. Additionally, most smokers go through adepression when the give up their smoking habit, thus makingit enormously difficult for them to attempt any seriousdiet modifications.