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Obesity: A Worldwide Phenomenon | Medical News and Health Information

Reported September 5, 2011

Obesity: A Worldwide Phenomenon

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows obesity rates are increasing around the world, but they vary widely in different countries. Worldwide, about 1.5 billion adults are overweight, and 0.5 billion are obese. Obesity accounts for between 2 percent and 6 percent of health care costs in many countries and has surpassed tobacco as the largest preventable cause of disease in some regions. Researchers publishing a series of articles about obesity in The Lancet found that in Japan and China, only 1 in 20 adult women is obese compared to 1 in 10 in the Netherlands, 1 in 4 in the UK and Australia, 1 in 3 in the United States, and a staggering 7 in 10 in Tonga. In high-income countries, the obesity epidemic seems to have started in the 1970s and 80s, which coincided with a rise in food consumption per capita. The authors say obesity is now making its way through low-income and middle-income countries, leaving many with the burden of dealing with obesity-related disease in some people and undernutrition in others. In high-income countries, both genders and all ages are affected, but obesity is more prevalent in poorer people, while in lower-income countries, obesity starts in middle-aged, wealthy adults (especially women) before spreading more broadly. "No country can act as a public health exemplar for reduction of obesity and type 2 diabetes," the authors write. They say an increased supply of inexpensive, tasty, and energy-dense food; improved food distribution and marketing; and strong economic forces driving consumption and growth are the key drivers of the obesity epidemic. Other factors have likely influenced the rates of obesity in particular countries. For instance, the Netherlands has an active cycling culture and has a slower rise in obesity prevalence than the U.S., which relies more on automobiles for transportation. Authors of the study believe the most effective interventions for reversing the obesity epidemic will be policy-led. However, they say some changes could come from the food industry as well. SOURCE: The Lancet

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9/6/2011 6:33 AM

Obesity: A Worldwide Phenomenon | Medical News and Health Information

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9/6/2011 6:33 AM