Obesity ‘becoming an epidemic’

2010-09-23 12:10

Paris – Obesity is becoming the most prevalent public health problem in industrialised nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said, and called on governments to take comprehensive action to tackle it.

Since 1980, when fewer than one in 10 people in OECD member nations were obese, rates have doubled and even tripled in many countries, the OECD said in a report released today in Paris.

“If recent trends continue, projections suggest that more than two out of three people will be overweight or obese in at least some OECD countries within the next 10 years,” the OECD said in the study, Obesity and the Economics of Prevention.

According to the OECD’s website, one is obese when one has a body mass index (BMI) of 30.

The BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in metres.

The reasons for the surge in obesity include: changes in food production that “have cut the price of calories dramatically”; changing living and working conditions that reduced the amount of physical activity; increased levels of stress; and longer working hours, the OECD said.

Women are more often obese than men, but male obesity rates have been growing faster than female rates in most OECD countries.

In addition, obesity is more common among the poor and the less educated.

These social disparities are also present in obesity rates for children, the organisation said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the problem is most acute in the world’s most prosperous country, the United States, where in 2008 nearly three in four women and two in three men were overweight, and about one-third of all adults were obese.

As a result, obesity accounts for between 5 and 10% of total health expenditure in the US, compared to 1 to 3% in most other countries.

“And costs will rise rapidly in coming years as obesity-related diseases set in,” the OECD warned.

The organisation called on governments to take action to “help people change their lifestyle,” including health education and promotion, regulation and fiscal measures as well as lifestyle counselling by physicians.

These methods “are a better investment than many treatments currently provided by OECD health care systems,” the organisation said.

Such a comprehensive strategy would prevent 155 000 deaths from chronic diseases in Japan every year, 75 000 in Italy, 70 000 in Britain and 40 000 in Canada.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.