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.
has been shown to raise the risk of
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.