By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We know that obesity is a major health issue in this country and throughout the world.

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Make no mistake, the price of obesity can be very high. We know that obesity at age 18 has the same risk for premature death as that of heavy smokers – heavy smokers are those who smoke more than ten cigarettes a day.

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There is a study which followed 46,000 men from age 18 to roughly age 56.

Compared to those who were a normal weight at age 18, those who were obese had more than double the odds for premature death. That’s similar to heavy smokers. Those who were overweight increased their risk by about one third. Being obese and a heavy smoker increased the odds of premature death by five times.

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The bottom line is that the better you can control your weight through diet and exercise, the better your chances for good health.