Lead author of the study, Annemarie Koster, who is an epidemiologist at the U.S National Institute on Aging, says: “Everyone knows that obesity and smoking are two well-known health risk factors and now our study suggests that smoking coupled with obesity increases the death risk.”
The both carry a considerable mortality risk, but especially smoking, Koster said.
“You can lower your death risk by losing weight, but if you lose weight as well as quit smoking, it can increase your health and decrease death risk,” she added.
The study has been published in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Koster and team collected data on 3.5 million members of the AARP that aged 50 to 71. In their questionnaires that they sent out in 1995-1996 and again in 1996-1997, they asked people about physical activity, weight, waist size, hormone replacement therapy, diet, family history of cancer and smoking.
By analyzing the data, the researchers noticed that death rate also increased as the body weight of the people increased and the people who smoked (across all weights) had the highest death rates.