TODAY

TODAY   |  August 16, 2013

1 in 5 Americans dies from obesity, new study finds

An alarming new report from the American Journal of Public Health shows that death rates from obesity are nearly three times the previous estimate. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>> alarming new report on the nation's obesity epidemic. according to research, one in five black and white americans dies from obesity. that's nearly three times the previous estimate. nancy snyderman is the medical editor. about 18% of the american population dies from a obesity related illness. that's startling.

>> some people took shots at the study saying it wasn't done well. i disagree. i think this is a real insight into the on going end testimonyepidemic. obesity is an illness. it's related to heart disease , stroke, you name it. we don't on death certificates put obesity as a cause of death . the numbers are real.

>> the study breaks down the population into groups. black women are at the highest risk, 27% followed by white men at 21%. white men at 15% of obesity related deaths and the lowest is black men at 5%.

>> you might look at those numbers and say they don't make any sense. here's what you have to remember. men do risky behavior. they die of more accidents. they die of more homicides. women don't. if you take out the other causes of death women have the bigger population of obesity. but we do know that for men and women, what we're feeding our 5 and 6-year-olds predisposes them to the life of obesity. if you look at people whose bmis are 40 and over, that's up in the past two years. 2-thirds of americans are overweight or obese. we don't have enough money in the bank from an economic standpoint to sustain this.

>> socioeconomics plays a huge role in this.

>> huge role.

>> according to the journey of mayo clinic proceedings, people that drink 28 cups of coffee a day -- four cups a day -- have an increased risk of death. especially for people under 55. don't we all have the same risk of death, 100%.

>> this is a savannah cup right here. who drinks 8 ounces anymore.

>> but four cups a day you increase your risk of death, among men, 55 and under, 56%.

>> big headline. i'll poke a few holes in this. this did not account for the fact that people in this study had cardiovascular disease and weren't taking care of themselves. and people drink coffee because they're sleep deprived . sleep apnea . sleep deprivation . i think there's no great study that shows caffeine hurts you unless you have cardiac problems or high blood pressure . it makes you alert and it's a descent drug. just the moderation thing.

>> we'll drink to that.

>> here you go.

>> we'll put this information on our website at today.com. thank