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At a time when more Americans are overweight than ever before, a studypublished in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that obesity is more deadly than previously estimated.

The study, which examined data from 1986 to 2006, when Americans were comparatively lean, determined that as many as 18% of deaths of individuals aged 40- to 85 are linked to obesity.

As NBC News reported (“Heavy burden: obesity may be even deadlier than thought” – August 15, 2013), many factors increase a person’s likelihood of weight problems, from income to level of education. And people who are obese are more likely to have other unhealthy habits, such as smoking and poor diets.

“People who are overweight or obese are far more likely than thinner people to have heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, and to have strokes or heart attacks,” NBC reported. “Usually, but not always, fatter people are less fit than thinner people, and exercise can clearly protect you from death and disease.”

As experts in human motion, physical therapists can design fitness programs to help you exercise safely.

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