Obesity causing more premature deaths in America than before - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Obesity causes more premature deaths in US than previously thought: Study

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

America's obesity epidemic is proving fatal more frequently than previously thought, according to new research from Columbia University.

The study looked at premature deaths over a period of 30 years, and found excess body mass is a factor in death nearly four times more than previous evidence suggested. Some people are literally eating themselves to death.

The report found that obesity accounts for more than 18% of remature deaths from 1976-2006 in the United States – 20% for women and 15% for men. It was previously thought that obesity contributed to only 5% of deaths.

African American Women, for whom 26% of deaths were weight related, are more at-risk than white women and white men.

Scientists estimate that 2/3 of Americans are overweight and 35% of Americans are obese. Obesity rates among children are also getting worse.

Some Chicagoans said the new information makes them more inclined to seek healthier diets and lifestyles.

"I grew up eating soul food – I was raise to eat that way," one resident said. "So I didn't know any better. The parents have to help their children."

"For every five pounds, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through vessels," cardiac nurse Sheri Norquist said. "It definitely affects your health."

"My husband is actually a physical trainer," Gabriella Griggs said. "Even though I don't always go to the gym like I should, and I don't always eat right like I should, I definitely take it very seriously – because I want longevity."

"My 24 year old son thanks me," Griggs continued," remembering how I cooked vegetables for him almost every night. I think he gets it."

The study criticizes government health agencies for not warning Americans about the costs of being overweight, and said premature deaths could be prevented with public campaigns and medical therapies.

The Centers for Disease Control does not list obesity as a direct cause of death. But it's a contributor to other health issues.

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