New findings indicate excessive bodyweight is now a bigger killer than smoking in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health recently published their Burden of Disease report. While the report focuses on health loss primarily from injury, the media seemed to have picked up on the estimation that being overweight or obese is now a higher cause of disease burden than smoking.
According to the Burden of Disease report, a combination of dietary risk factors (including high salt intake, high saturated fat intake, low vegetable and fruit intake, and excess energy intake) accounted for a higher health loss than tobacco in 2006 – 11.4 per cent and 9.1 per cent respectively. Furthermore, the report estimates that by now (ie 2013) overweight and obesity are causing a higher health loss than tobacco.
The report also makes projections out to 2016. It predicts that overweight and obesity will cause even more health loss into the future. But it also predicts that the health loss from tobacco will decrease, likely due to falling tobacco consumption and the Governments commitment to a smokefree nation by 2025.
The main metric used in the study was disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), a composite measure of mortality and morbidity that measures how far we fall short of ‘ideal’ health.
How can you lower your risk of health problems from being overweight?
Excessive weight is a risk factor for numerous health problems – including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and more.
So if you’re overweight or obese, even a modest weight loss of 5% to 10% can lead to significant health benefits. Getting active has a big influence on weight control as well as on body composition. Physical activity also brings with it numerous other health benefits – including controlling weight, reducing risk of certain diseases, strengthening bones and muscles, improving mental health and mood, increasing your chance of living longer, and much more. For more info, see my post on ‘How much physical activity should you get?’, or get active by joining one of our classes.