More people in England and Scotland may have died from conditions relating to obesity and excess body fat since 2014 than smoking, researchers have said.

A team from the University of Glasgow have been looking at mortality rates and they found that between 2003 and 2017, the percentage of deaths related to smoking have decreased from 23.1 per cent to 19.4 per cent. However, over the same time period, mortality rates linked to obesity and excess body fat went up from 17.9 per cent to 23.1 per cent.

Having looked at the pattern of figures the researchers think obesity impacting more death rates overtook smoking in 2014.

One of the study authors Jill Pell said: “For several decades smoking has been a major target of public health interventions as it is a leading cause of avoidable deaths. As a result, the prevalence of smoking has fallen in the United Kingdom.

“At the same time the prevalence of obesity has increased. Our research indicates that, since 2014, obesity and excess body fat may have contributed to more deaths in England and Scotland than smoking.”

However, the researchers said that although obesity and excess body fat were associated with more deaths since 2006 among older adults, smoking is still likely to contribute to more deaths when compared with obesity and excess body fat among younger adults.

Jill Pell added: “The increase in estimated deaths due to obesity and excess body fat is likely to be due to their contributions to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“Our findings suggest that the public health and policy interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking have been successful and that national strategies to address obesity and excess body fat, particularly focusing on middle-aged and older age groups and men, should be a public health priority.”

The study findings have been published in the journal BMC Public Health.


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