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Obesity Becomes the Heavyweight

It now tops health-risk list, even outranks smoking, survey says

Obesity is now, by far, the No. 1 health risk in the United States, according to a new RAND institute survey.

The study, detailed in a news service story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, found that overweight people are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems than smokers, drinkers or the poor.

The health differences between the obese and others were startling. Non-obese people have half the number of chronic health problems, the story says.

Roland Sturm, a RAND economist and lead author of the study, says the findings should prompt public health officials to launch anti-obesity campaigns similar to anti-smoking campaigns.

The survey, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was conducted by phone in 1998. Almost 10,000 adults were questioned about their height, weight and chronic health problems.

The study appears in the current issue of the British journal Public Health.

RAND has more information on the survey. And has links to tips and facts about obesity and how to lose weight safely.

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