Obesity Gains on Smoking as Top Cause of U.S. Death

As a follow up to the unhealthy salads… Obesity is on its way to becoming the No. 1 cause of death in the US! Whoohoo! Congrats America, we’re fat, we’re lazy, and we’re going to kill ourselves quicker than anyone because we just needed to eat that extra two slices of pizza while watching the game or the extra bacon bits on a salad or the extra candy bar in between meals. This is one of those issues that really irks me. I hit the gym 4-5 days a week because I want to be healthy and live long. All the while other people are out there NOT caring about the long term affects on everyone else. Think about HealthCare costs. Think about medical costs. If we were healthier we might be able to cut back on the health insurance money. End rant. = )

Original Link
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Obesity is quickly catching up to smoking as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, government researchers said on Tuesday, and a concerned federal government launched an advertising campaign aimed at getting Americans to eat better and exercise more.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed tobacco use was still the leading cause of death in 2000, killing 435,000 people, or 18.1 percent of everyone who died.

But poor diet and physical inactivity caused 400,000 deaths, or 16.6 percent of the total, the report showed — up from 300,000, or 14 percent of deaths, in 1990.

An estimated 129.6 million of adult Americans, or 64 percent of the population, are overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and various forms of disability.

If Americans continue to get fatter at current rates, by 2020 about one in five health care dollars spent on people aged 50 to 69 could be due to obesity — 50 percent more than now — according to a separate study by the Rand Corporation.

“Americans need to understand that overweight and obesity are literally killing us,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson told a news conference.

“We consider this a major threat,” added National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.

More than 30 percent of U.S. adults are obese, according to the CDC. That translates to about 59 million people.

Zerhouni called for more research on obesity.

“There is no single cause of all human obesity, so we must explore prevention and treatment approaches that encompass many aspects, such as behavioral, sociocultural, socioeconomic, environmental, physiologic and genetic factors,” he said.

This year, NIH funding for obesity research is $400.1 million. The budget request for fiscal year 2005 is $440.3 million, 10 percent more.

STRESSING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

HHS launched a public relations campaign on Tuesday stressing that people do not need to shake up their lives to lose weight, but can take small steps such as walking to work sometimes or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

“We don’t need to go out and run a marathon or join a health club,” Thompson said.

It calls on Americans to snack on fruits and vegetables instead of high-fat foods, to ride a bike on occasion and to replace the Sunday drive with a Sunday stroll.

Peggy Conlon of the Ad Council, the leading producer of public service announcements, said advertising giant McCann-Erickson produced the ads for free.

She called them “memorable, highly relevant and motivational” and said they would be aired by major networks, on radio, in print ads and placed on billboards.

“We will transform the United States from a country that embraces treatment to a country that embraces prevention,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona.

But consumer groups criticized the campaign as offering too little.

“The Bush administration’s response is more talk and no real help for the millions of Americans who would like to eat better and watch their weight,” said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“The Bush administration should instead get junk food out of schools, ask Congress to require calorie labeling in fast-food and other chain restaurants, strengthen CDC’s nutrition and physical activity division, and fully fund the CDC’s VERB campaign, which promotes physical activity to youth.”

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