Obesity bigger problem than hunger, according to global report

A recent global report on health found that nearly every country in the world is facing alarming obesity rates.

With the exception of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the entire world is struggling with this problem, which is now a bigger crisis than hunger, the report stated.

The study was a collaboration by the University of Washington and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Results were published Thursday in The Lancet, a British medical journal.

Kids live longer, fatter lives

Ali Mokdad, co-author of the study, says that although children have a longer lifespan than ever before, obesity is coming into focus as the main problem:

"We discovered that there's been a huge shift in mortality. Kids who used to die from infectious disease are now doing extremely well with immunization. However, the world is now obese and we're seeing the impact of that."

Globally, obesity rates have increased 82 percent in the past 20 years. In the Middle East, obesity rates are up 100 percent since 1990.

Impact of the Western diet

The report also notes that, for the first time, diabetes, heart disease and strokes are among the top causes of illness and injury. Mokdad says the global adaption of the Western diet and food influences have created the negative health impacts.

"All these problems are tied to obesity. We're even seeing a large percentage of people suffering back pain now. If we could lower the obesity rates, we'd see the numbers of noncommunicable diseases and pain decrease as well."

The study found that, while people are living longer than predicted in 1990--about 11 more years for men and 13 for women--quality of life is poor due to chronic illness and disease.

"We hope policymakers will pay attention to these numbers and figure out what programs they can implement to intervene on these trends," Mokdad said.

Source: CNN

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