Obesity now kills more people than SMOKING
Obesity now kills more people than SMOKING: Weight problems account for more deaths than tobacco as junk food grows more popular than cigarettes, study reveals
- Data shows percentage of deaths caused by smoking has fallen from 23% to 19%
- Meanwhile deaths caused by obesity rose from 17.9 to 23.1% in the same period
- Experts from Glasgow University, who produced study, say similar measures to those used to warn people of smoking dangers should be used to tackle obesity
Obesity is killing more people than smoking each year as junk food grows more popular than cigarettes, a study reveals.
The percentage of deaths attributable to smoking are estimated to have fallen in England and Scotland from 23.1 per cent in 2003 to 19.4 per cent in 2017.
But deaths caused by excess weight rose over the same period from 17.9 per cent to 23.1 per cent.
Data shows percentage of deaths attributable to obesity has risen from 19.4 per cent in 2003 to 23.1 per cent in 2017 and has surpassed the percentage of deaths attributable to smoking
It coincides with a fall in smoking rates from 26 per cent in 2003 to 18 per cent in 2017 and a rise in obesity from 23 per cent to 29 per cent.
The study of 192,239 adults with an average age of 50 suggested fat overtook smoking as a contributory cause of death in 2014.
Obesity has also likely accounted for more deaths among older adults since 2006.
The study estimated fat contributed to 3.5 per cent more deaths than smoking among over-65s in 2017.
Professor Jill Pell, leader of the Glasgow University study, said policies such as plain cigarette packaging helped reduce deaths attributable to smoking and similar measures are needed to tackle obesity.
She said: ‘We knew about the harms of smoking long before taking action to reduce it. We cannot afford to wait so long with obesity.
‘For several decades smoking has been a major target of public health interventions as it is a leading cause of avoidable deaths.
‘As a result, the prevalence of smoking has fallen in the UK. At the same time the prevalence of obesity has increased.
‘Our research indicates that, since 2014, obesity and excess body fat may have contributed to more deaths in England and Scotland than smoking.’
However, the researchers found that while obesity was likely to cause more deaths in older adults, smoking was still more likely to contribute to deaths in younger adults.
Study shows the decline in smoking-related deaths coincides with a fall in smoking rates from 26 per cent in 2003 to 18 per cent in 2017 and a rise in obesity from 23 per cent to 29 per cent
The data showed that among those aged 65 and over and 45-64 respectively, obesity and excess body fat contributed to 3.5% and 3.4% more estimated deaths than smoking in 2017.
However, in the 16-44 age group, smoking was 2.4% more likely to have contributed to deaths than obesity.
Researchers also found that there was a gender division in the statistics.
Obesity and excess body fat was likely to have accounted for 5.2% more deaths in 2017 than smoking in men, compared to 2.2 per cent more deaths in women.
Professor Pell said: ‘The increase in estimated deaths due to obesity and excess body fat is likely to be due to their contributions to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
‘Our findings suggest that the public health and policy interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking have been successful and that national strategies to address obesity and excess body fat, particularly focusing on middle-aged and older age groups and men, should be a public health priority.’
The study findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.
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