Growing Obesity Rates Are Becoming A Worldwide Epidemic

According to the World Health Organisation, since 1975 worldwide obesity has tripled. For both the developed and developing countries, this has presented a huge public health scourge. Today, 2.1 billon people are overweight, which counts for 30% of the world’s population. Obesity is becoming a global concern and is growing at alarming rates internationally.

In 2010, 3.4 million deaths were caused by cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and chronic kidney diseases. All of which were associated with obesity and overweight.

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of IHME and co-founder of the Global Burden Off Disease study says, “In the last three decades, not one country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates, and we expect obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income nations in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this public health crisis.”

In 2016, 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. In the same year, 340 million children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 were overweight or obese.

The double burden of obesity and undernourishment is a result of a lifestyle switch and poverty. 62% of obese are living in developing countries. This universal epidemic is due to the explosion of the availability of unhealthy foods.

Many low-income countries such as, Brazil, Libya, Samoa and India etc. tend to spend their money on cheaper food options.  This has resulted in a shift away from traditional cuisine and more towards Western diets exposing them to a diet high in fat, sugar and salt, energy-dense, and poor in micronutrients. Although they will be cut down in cost and higher in calories they will also be less nutritious.

A diabetes specialist, Professor Ranjan Yajnik, is seeing first-hand how this change is having an impact on one’s health: “Diabetes was considered a disease of the older and more obese,” he says. “But in India we’re seeing it in younger people and with a lower BMI”.

The rise also comes from the shift towards office jobs and television amongst many other low physical activities. Research indicates the rise in obesity could lead to a decline in future life expectancy, if left unchecked.

Diseases related to overweight and obesity are largely preventable. The key to preventing this issue is to have supportive environments and communities who can help influence societies choices. By making physical activities a priority and making better and healthier food choices.

Governments are making conscious efforts to reduce rates by implementing a “sugar tax” on artificially sweetened drinks. In Mexico, obesity rates are predicted to drop by 12.5% in the next 12 years because of this tax addition.

To halt this nutritional dilemma, much more work will be needed.

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