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Obesity Poll: Many American's Unaware of Potential Cancer, Infertility and Arthritis Risks

Update Date: Jan 07, 2013 12:17 PM EST

There is a vast amount of studies and reports that warn of the relationship between obesity and chronic disease or worse, but a new poll released Monday shows that some Americans are unaware of the risks involved with being overweight.

According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research,  many Americans know about heart disease and diabetes as major health risks from obesity, but few realize other conditions including cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, and infertility are tied to having excess weight.

Heart disease is in fact the nation's leading killer, and diabetes and obesity are climbing epidemics. However, the other health risks involved with obesity aren't so well known.

According to the report, a staggeringly low number of 7 percent of people mentioned cancer, although doctors long have known that fat increases the risk of developing cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, uterus and certain other sites.

"People are often shocked to hear how far-reaching the effects of obesity are," said Jennifer Dimitriou, a bariatric dietitian at New York's Montefiore Medical Center, according to the Associated Press.

More than 80 percent of people that participated in the poll said they had easy access to supermarkets, but just as many could easily get fast food. Another 68 percent said it was easy for kids to purchase junk food on their way to school.

Lack of exercise and general inactivity was also cited as increasing the risk of being overweight and obese.  About 7 in 10 people said it was easy to find sidewalks or paths for jogging, walking or bike-riding. However, 63 percent found it difficult to run errands or get around without a car.

While understanding the effects obesity can have on the human body can prompt people to make a change in their lifestyle, only 52 percent of those polled said they discussed such health risks with their doctors.

The AP-NORC survey was conducted Nov. 21 through Dec. 14. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,011 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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