Being severely overweight is as bad as smoking a pack a day.
Being obese increases your risk of dying as much as smoking, research suggests.
A study found being an obese non-smoker is as bad, health-wise, as being a healthy weight and smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day.
The research team from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden followed almost 46,000 people for 38 years to come to their conclusions.
They found that being obese or smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day doubled the risk of dying prematurely.
While, being overweight (but not obese), or smoking one to 10 cigarettes a day increased the chance of dying by more than 30%.
Interestingly, those who were seriously underweight (with a BMI of 17 or less) also had an increased risk of dying by more than 30%.
Betty McBride, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘The government need to bring the same level of sustained focus to tackling the obesity crisis it has previously brought to smoking.
The number of young people who are overweight and obese is growing. Without tackling this now we risk the next generation growing up with more health problems than their parents.’