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University of Glasgow researchers find that obesity is responsible for more UK deaths than smoking

By Lucy Dunn

Smoking-related deaths have decreased whilst obesity is killing more.

A new study by University of Glasgow researchers has shown that obesity is responsible for more deaths in both Scotland and England than smoking. 

The analysis of data collected between 2003 and 2017 found that obesity has led to more cases of solid organ cancers, including bowel, kidney, ovarian and liver cancer, than smoking. Published in the BioMed Central Public Health journal, data relating to just under 200,000 adults were analysed. The average age of the study’s subjects was 50 years old. 

Smoking was seen to be responsible for causing less cancers, dropping from 23.1% to 19.4%. The increase in obesity’s link to cancer was significantly greater than smoking’s decline, rising from 17.9% to 23.1%. Obesity’s link to deaths was split by gender, with an increase of 5.2% male deaths being attributable to the condition, compared to 2.2% more female deaths. However, younger adults were more likely to develop smoking-related cancers.

Professor Jill Pell, one of the study’s authors, told the Independent that whilst “the prevalence of smoking has fallen in the UK, the prevalence of obesity has increased”. She continued to point out that “public health and policy interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking have been successful” and that, moving forward, it should be a “public health priority” to focus on reducing obesity in the UK, particularly in men. 


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