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Inactivity May Kill as Many Worldwide as Smoking: Report
Date:7/18/2012

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Inactivity is a major cause of death worldwide, with new research suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle is on par with both smoking and obesity when it comes to raising the risk for disease and mortality.

In four research papers published online July 18 in a special physical activity-themed series in The Lancet, a number of investigating teams peg the number of inactivity-related deaths at 5.3 million worldwide as recently as 2008.

This figure attributed to an inactivity-related risk for major killers such as breast and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease amounts to roughly one out of every 10 deaths globally, a tally more or less equivalent to the number of people who die as a result of smoking.

Although the report cites the inactivity-mortality association as most critical in low- and middle-income nations, researchers depict the situation as a problem with global dimensions.

One-third of all adults -- globally amounting to about 1.5 billion people -- face a 20 percent to 30 percent greater risk for disease due to failing to engage in the kind of routine physical activity (150 minutes of moderate exercise per week) typically recommended by public health authorities.

That figure rises dramatically among adolescents, among whom four in five engage in a risky sedentary lifestyle.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston noted that, globally, about 6 percent of coronary heart disease cases stem from a lack of adequate exercise, which they also linked to an average of about 7 percent of type 2 diabetes cases. Physical inactivity also accounts for an average of about 10 percent of breast and colon cancer cases worldwide, they added.

Not all parts of the world are affected equally, however, as inactivity patterns vary widely region-by-region.

For example, while about 43 percent of North Americans a
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