Obesity-Related Deaths Rise Dramatically in UK

Obesity is increasingly being listed as a cause of death in England, analysis of death certificates shows.

There has been a “dramatic rise” in obesity-related deaths, according to researchers at the University of Oxford.  Researchers examined 27 years’ worth of data, looking at whether obesity was listed as the main cause of death or as a contributing cause. Although this study was initially intended to examine the process of recording deaths, it highlights the important relationship between obesity and health. 

 The researchers say that one possible reason for the increase in obesity related death recordings is due to a real increase in obesity prevalence. They also warn that obesity-related death may be more common than previously believed because it is rarely listed as the main cause of death, and instead only as a contributing factor.

 According to the study, the death certificates showed there were 757 deaths related to obesity in 2009, compared with 358 obesity related deaths in 2000.  It is also noted these numbers may not be completely accurate because there were likely to be many more such deaths where obesity was not recorded.

The researchers concluded that: “There is an emerging trend of increased certification of obesity as a cause of death in England.”

 They also say that relying on the underlying-cause mortality statistics alone “fails to capture the majority of obesity deaths”.  So although their findings indicate a notable rise in obesity related deaths, the data may only be the tip of the iceberg.

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