Are There More Deaths from Lack of Exercise or from Obesity?

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A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that twice as many deaths may be attributed to the lack of physical activity compared with the number of deaths attributed to obesity and a brisk 20 minute walk daily could reduce an individual’s risk of early death. . Physical inactivity has  consistently been associated with a great risk of heart disease, cancer and early death.,

In the sample of over 334,000 European men and women followed over twelve years researchers measured height, weight, and waist circumference, and used self-assessment to measure levels of physical activity. Findings showed that the greatest reduction in risk of premature death occurred in the comparison between inactive and moderately inactive groups based upon combining activities at work with recreational activities. Just under a quarter  (22.7%)of subjects were inactive based upon reporting of no recreational activity combined with a sedentary occupation. Researchers estimated that doing exercise equivalent to a 20 minute brisk walk daily would move an individual from the inactive to moderately inactive group and reduce their risk of premature death by between 16 and 30 percent. This was greatest among normal weight subjects but even those with a higher BMI saw benefits.

Using the most recent available death rates in Europe they estimated 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths among Europeans were attributed to obesity (classed as a BMI greater than 30) but double this number of deaths (676,000) could be attributed to physical inactivity. Researchers said the message is that just a small amount of physical activity daily could have substantial health benefits.

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