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Adolescent Obesity As Harmful to Health As Smoking

Overweight adolescents at same risk of adult mortality as light smokers

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents who are overweight or obese have a similar mortality risk in adulthood as their peers who are light or heavy smokers, respectively, according to a report published online Feb. 24 in BMJ.

Martin Neovius, M.D., of Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a study of 45,920 Swedish men with a mean age of 18.7 years who were followed-up for 38 years. Body mass index was calculated and the men self-reported smoking status, with light smokers classified as those who smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day and heavy smokers as those who smoked more than 10.

In the course of follow-up, men who were overweight were more likely to die than those who were normal weight (hazard ratio, 1.33), and the risk of mortality was also higher for obese men (hazard ratio 2.14), the investigators found. The additional mortality risk for light and heavy smokers was higher versus non-smokers (hazard ratios, 1.54 and 2.11, respectively), the researchers report.

"The findings indicate that from a mortality perspective targets for young men should be within the non-smoking, normal weight range, and that overweight, obesity and smoking among adolescents might be good targets for intensified public health initiatives," the authors write.

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