If you’re overweight and smoke, you might wonder which is worse (or maybe you don’t, but those who love you do) – the cigarettes or about being fat?

A team of Swedish researchers offers an unexpected answer – it’s the extra weight.

The study, conducted by a team from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, used military conscription data to follow nearly 46,000 men.

This information was then linked to the nation’s cause of death registry. To be part of the study, the men had their induction tests between the ages of 18 and 20 and there was data on height, weight as well as reported smok novo 2 habits for all of them.

Nearly 3,000 of the subjects died during the decades long study. The incidence of death was lowest in the men of normal weight (BMI of 18.5 – 24.9), but the team also found that being obese (BMI’s over 30) and smoking 10 cigarettes a day doubled early death risk.

Most surprising of all, the obese non-smoker had the same risk as the obese smokers.

What’s more, those men who were on the underweight side of BMI, below 18.5, didn’t have a higher risk of early death, even if they smoked.

However, anyone who was seriously underweight, with a BMI of 17 or under, ran the same early death risk as the overweight (BMI of 25 – 29.9) subjects in the study.

This points to a need to address weight issues (both being overweight and underweight) and promote a healthy lifestyle in the teen years, as well as all through life.

“Compared to normal weight adolescents, being overweight at the age of 18 increased the risk of premature death by just over a third, while being obese more than doubled the risk,” write the researchers, who were led by Dr Martin Neovius. The work appeared in the February 24, 2009 issue of the British Medical Journal.

So start by focusing on reducing extra weight, no matter what your age but especially if you’re young, use a BMI calculator – this gives you a no-excuses look at where you stand. If the number is higher than you’d like don’t panic, but do get to work.

Try to be more active, building the length of your exercise sessions slowly but regularly over time until you’re doing 30 minutes most days of the week. Upping how active you are helps, but watching what you put into your body is also critical to losing the extra weight.

Diet changes don’t have to be radical but rather small, do-able things like eating an extra serving of fruits and vegetables, cutting out regular sweets and such get you on the right track. Small steps, regular effort and good common sense is the best way to make real, lasting strides toward managing your weight.

If you or someone you love is smoking, even just 10 cigarettes a day, helping them to quit is an important step toward improving their health. What’s more, there are lots of effective methods to quit.



By Gilbert

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