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Ignoring Exercise May Be Twice as Lethal as Obesity

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(Bloomberg) -- Lack of exercise may be responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity, according to a study showing the benefits of as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking a day.

Using the most recent available data on deaths in Europe, 337,000 of 9.2 million fatalities over a 12-year period were attributable to obesity, scientists led by epidemiologist Ulf Ekelund at the University of Cambridge said in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition today. About double that number could be explained by physical inactivity, they said.

A lack of exercise is the fourth leading risk factor for premature death after smoking, excessive drinking and obesity, according to the World Health Organization. It’s the cause of at least an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally per year.

“Helping people to lose weight can be a real challenge,” Nick Wareham, director of the University of Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, said in a statement. “Public health interventions that encourage people to make small but achievable changes in physical activity can have significant health benefits and may be easier to achieve and maintain.”

The researchers analyzed data from 334,000 men and women across Europe participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study.

They estimate that exercise equivalent to a 20-minute brisk walk each day -- burning 90 to 110 calories -- reduces the risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent when compared with no exercise. The impact was greatest among normal weight individuals, but those with higher body mass index also saw a benefit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at John Bowker

Citi: Oil Could Plunge to $20, and This Might Be 'the End of OPEC'

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'Bomb Train' Terminal Suits Seen Slowing U.S. Oil Independence

Oil tankers sit at a rail yard in Richmond, California.

Photographer: David Paul Morris

The recent surge in oil prices is just a "head-fake," and oil as cheap as $20 a barrel may soon be on the way, Citigroup said in a report on Monday as it lowered its forecast for crude. 

Despite global declines in spending that have driven up oil prices in recent weeks, oil production in the U.S. is still rising, wrote Edward Morse, Citigroup's global head of commodity research. Brazil and Russia are pumping oil at record levels, and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran have been fighting to maintain their market share by cutting prices to Asia. The market is oversupplied, and storage tanks are topping out.

A pullback in production isn't likely until the third quarter, Morse said. In the meantime, West Texas Intermediate Crude, which currently trades at around $52 a barrel, could fall to the $20 range "for a while," according to the report. The U.S. shale-oil revolution has broken OPEC's ability to manipulate prices and maximize profits for oil-producing countries.

"It looks exceedingly unlikely for OPEC to return to its old way of doing business," Morse wrote. "While many analysts have seen in past market crises 'the end of OPEC,' this time around might well be different," Morse said.

Citi reduced its annual forecast for Brent crude for the second time in 2015. Prices in the $45-$55 range are unsustainable and will trigger "disinvestment from oil" and a fourth-quarter rebound to $75 a barrel, according to the report. Prices this year will likely average $54 a barrel. 

Read more: Oil Prices Are Definitely Crashing. Unless They're Surging.

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