Worldwide Obesity Epidemic

United States Heads Obese List
Japanese Adults Slimmest

A detailed report in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that Americans are leading in the worldwide obesity epidemic.

Worldwide about 12 percent of adults are obese. This compares with 38 percent in the United States and only 2.7 percent in Japan.  Obesity rates among American children are higher than most countries and rising.

Although most Pacific Rim countries showed lower rates of obesity and child obesity, still there is concern around the world: Between 1980 and 2015 the prevalence of obesity doubled in 73 countries and continuously increased in most of the other countries.

China and Indiia had the largest number of obese children.  China and the United States had the highest number of obese adults.

Excess weight accounted for about 4 million deaths or about 71 percent of all deaths in 2015.

Excess weight is related to development of cardiovascular disease, also leukemia and several types of cancers.

Obesity rates increased in both rich and poor countries, indicating the problem is not simply related to differences in income.

Changes in the food environment and food systems are probably main causes.  Especially “accessibility, availability, affordability of energy-dense foods” along with “intense marketing of such foods” can help explain the weight gain among populations around the globe.

In a word, Big Food and Big Agribusiness have a financial interest in pushing products that are cheap and easy to produce, are easy to process, package and store,and have a stable shelf life.  Longer term solutions to the problems of world obesity  will require joint efforts of consumer groups, NGOs, and government organizations working to safeguard the interests of consumers.  Private industry cannot be relied on to do this.

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