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Disease Burden of Obesity Matches That of Smoking

Impact on quality-adjusted life-years lost had caught up with tobacco by 2008

THURSDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In terms of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) lost, the overall disease burden attributable to obesity has matched, and even slightly exceeded, that attributable to smoking, according to a study published online Jan. 5 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Haomiao Jia, Ph.D., of Columbia University, and Erica I. Lubetkin, M.D., of the City College of New York, both in New York City, analyzed health-related quality-of-life data from the 1993 to 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and estimated premature deaths using other data sources.

While the proportion of adult smokers declined by 18.5 percent from 1993 to 2008, the proportion of people classified as obese increased by 85 percent over the same period, the data revealed. While smoking-related QALYs lost remained stable at 0.0438 per population, QALYs lost due to obesity rose from 0.0204 in 1993 to 0.0464 by 2008, an increase of 127 percent, the researchers discovered. The impact of smoking was greater on mortality, while the impact of obesity was greater on morbidity.

"Although life expectancy and quality-adjusted life expectancy have increased over time, the increase in the contribution of mortality to QALYs lost from obesity may result in a decline in future life expectancy," the authors write.

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