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Virginians Are Smoking Less but Eating More and it’s Showing

January 25, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginians are like most Americans in that they have been smoking less over the last 15 years, which has resulted in longer life expectancy and improved quality of life. But a study recently published in the "New England Journal of Medicine" warns that those benefits could be wiped out by the growing obesity rate. Smoking rates are down 20 percent but obesity rates are up 48 percent - offsetting health gains made by reducing tobacco use.

Chuck Reed with the American Cancer Society says few people are aware of the link between being overweight and getting cancer.

"In this recent survey, one scary thing we found is that 50 percent of the people don't know there is a direct correlation between obesity and cancer."

Reed says research shows that if all U.S. adults became nonsmokers of normal weight by 2020, their life expectancy would shoot up an average of 3.76 years.

Quitting smoking is one of the most common New Year's resolutions, but Reed tells people who have resolved to be healthy not to stop there.

"If you are going to quit smoking, which we encourage you to do, take it one step further and also maintain a healthy body weight. That way, you're making positive lifestyle choices, and you can live longer and enjoy your life more."

Tips on healthy eating and new ways to incorporate healthy foods into daily meals are available at www.cancer.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA