Government Revises Obesity-Related Death Figures

January 20, 2005 ( - The government, citing a computer software error, has admitted that it overestimated the number of Americans dying from obesity.

In a study published last March in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the government said that obesity-related deaths per year climbed by 100,000 between 1990 and 2000 to reach an annual figure of 400,000. The study had put tobacco-related deaths at 435,000 annually, and said that obesity might soon overtake tobacco as the major cause of death in America.

In its corrections, published in the latest issue of the Journal , revised figures pinned the increase at 65,000, a significant drop from the original 100,000 figure. The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Integrity is a core value of CDC, and the integrity of our science must be protected,” CDC Director Julie Gerberding said in a statement. “We are improving our internal scientific review processes, including moving toward the adoption of electronic review processes.”

The agency still feels that obesity is a major cause of death in America, and is still increasing, however. “The combination of diet, physical inactivity and tobacco are all leading causes of death, causing far more than a majority of total deaths in this country in the year 2000,” said Donna Stroup, acting director for the CDC’s coordinating center for health promotion, according to the Journal’s Web site. “Regardless of the controversy, it’s clear to people these are the three underlying causes of death most important to the country.”