A 12-year study of more than 300,000 people suggests that a lack of exercise is twice as deadly as obesity in Europe.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge reported that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths among European men and women each year were due to obesity. This number was doubled, however, when attributed to physical inactivity.
Obesity puts people at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and while obesity and inactivity can be related, researchers revealed that 20 minutes of brisk walking a day, which burns roughly 100 calories, reduced the risk of premature death.
Studying obesity and inactivity
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved researchers assessing exercise levels and waist lines of 334,161 Europeans over 12 years, recording every death.
The risk of death was reduced from avoiding inactivity by 7.35 per cent, while having a BMI under the level of obesity only lowered mortality by an estimated 3.66 per cent. This was consistent in normal weight, overweight and obese people.
“This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive,” said Professor Ulf Ekelund, study leader from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University.
Barbara Dinsdale, from Heart Research UK, said: “This study once again reinforces the importance of being physically active, even when carrying excess weight. Changing your lifestyle is all good news for heart health, but physical activity is always easier to achieve and maintain without carrying the extra ‘body baggage’ of too much weight.”

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