A study released by the federal government in March shows that deaths due to poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past decade and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there were 400,000 deaths in the United States in 2000 that were related to a poor diet and physical inactivity. Only tobacco use was more prevalent with 435,000 deaths.
In a statement released the same day, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said, “To know that poor eating habits and inactivity are on the verge of surpassing tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable death in America should motivate all Americans to take action to protect their health. We need to tackle America’s weight issues as aggressively as we are addressing smoking and tobacco.”
As a call to action, Thompson unveiled the Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention initiative, a joint effort between HHS and the National Institutes of Health.
The initiative will include multi-media public service advertisements and an interactive Web site, www.smallstep.gov, to encourage more Americans to be active.
An estimated 129.6 million Americans, or 64 percent, are overweight or obese. Obesity has been shown to increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer and other disabling medical conditions.
Date: June 30, 2004