Obesity Rise Hurts Health More Than Smoking
Study Shows Obesity Epidemic Creating New Challenges to Public Health
Jan. 5, 2010 -- America's obesity epidemic now poses an equal or greater
threat to health-related quality of life than smoking, according to a new
Researchers say that as obesity in America has risen dramatically in recent
years -- and smoking rates have declined -- the contribution of obesity to the
burden of disease and shortening of life has increased while smoking's role has
The study showed that from 1993 to 2008, the proportion of smokers among
U.S. adults declined by 18.5% while the proportion of obese adults increased
Using information from nationwide annual health-related quality-of-life
surveys conducted during the same time period, researchers calculated the
Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) lost due to these two major health risk
The results, published in the American Journal of Preventive Health,
show that smoking-related QALYs lost remained relatively stable during this
time period at 0.0438, or 16 days of healthy life lost per adult
Meanwhile, as the obesity epidemic increased the quality-of-life problems
caused by obesity increased and accounted for 0.0464 QALYs lost.
Researchers say smoking had a bigger impact on deaths while obesity had a
bigger effect on illness.
"Because of the marked increase in the proportion of obese people, obesity
has become an equal, if not greater contributor to the burden of disease than
smoking," write researcher Haomiao Jia, PhD, of Columbia University, and
colleagues. "Such data are essential in setting targets for reducing modifiable
health risks and eliminating health disparities."