Obesity problems outweigh smoking progress

If the U.S. obesity epidemic continues, it could make the decline in smokers a moot point interms of health gains in the U.S., warns a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Smoking rates dropped 16 percent between 1970 and 2008, down to 21 percent last year, from 37 percent in 1970. But the gain could be for naught. Combining research from Harvard University, the University of Michigan and the economic research bureau, the NEJ study says that by the year 2020, the future life expectancy of a typical 18-year-old would be shortened by 8 months. 

As it is, the number of U.S. adults who are obese accounted for 10 percent--$147 billion--of all medical spending in the U.S. last year, Bloomberg reports. About 34 percent of U.S. adults--72 million people--can be considered obese, according data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

To learn more:
- check out this Bloomberg article
- read the study (reg. req.)