There have been many studies showing the increased risk of mortality and morbidity associated with obesity. Obesity has been known to be associated with diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancers.
Image Credit: DenisProduction.com / Shutterstock
Latest 2017 reports by OECD countries have shown that in the recent decades, obesity has risen exponentially. Obesity has touched people of either gender, all ages, all ethnicities and also all education and income levels. In short it has spared no one and affects different populations in varying degrees.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) includes 35 member countries that work together to achieve common economic and other goals.
Studies have revealed that high BMI (body mass index) leads to nearly 4 million deaths in 2015 and this is a 19.5 percent jump up from 2005 globally. The 2017 report shows that 54% of the population is overweight in the OECD. There is a 19 percent prevalence of obesity in the OECD population.
Overweight population is least in Japan (23 percent) and Korea (33 percent) and most in Mexico and United States (over 70 percent) the report on the OECD countries has noted. Overweight is a BMI of over 25 kg/m squared.
Obesity or BMI of over 30 kg/ m squared is lowest in Italy, Japan and Korea at less than 10 percent. It is highest in Hungary, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States where over one third of the population is obese says the report. A huge number of people are pre-obese with BMI of over 25 and less than 30 kg/m2.
On the basis of gender 20 percent of women and 19 percent of men are obese. The gender difference is low in certain countries including Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Women lead in obesity in certain countries including Mexico, Turkey, Colombia, South Africa. Men lead the obesity race in Australia, the Czech Republic, Japan, Korea, Ireland and Slovenia.
The rise of obesity is significant in some countries more than others. In Korea and Norway for example obesity rates have doubled since the 1990s. Italy and Japan has seen stabilized rates of obesity at present. Some countries have shown very rise in the numbers. These include United Kingdom – a 92 percent rise since 1990s and United States – a 65 percent rise since 1990s. Canada and Mexico has shown slower rise with Chile showing a negligible rise in obesity numbers.
Coming to what the government health policies have done to curb this menace, Australia, England, France and New Zealand and many other countries have implemented measures such as appropriate food labels, nutrient lists, social media supports, public education etc. Taxation policies have also been altered to facilitate healthy eating.
Another part of the report focuses on overweight and obesity among children in the OECD countries. The report notes that childhood obesity has become a major public health challenge damaging a whole generation. Not only does it put the children at risk for future ailments but also affects mental and physical growth, hormonal balance, psycho-social health, heart and lung health etc. Childhood obesity is also a major contributer to depression, eating disorders etc.
Among the OECD countries, the average rate of overweight and obesity is 25 percent. Of these 26 percent overweight and obesity is seen in boy and 24 percent is seen among girls. Girls are more obese and overweight in Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom and South Africa. The girl-boys difference is most in countries such as Denmark, Greece, Korea, Poland, Sweden and South Africa.
There is a huge prevalence of self-reported overweight and obesity among teenagers. Girls in Canada, Greece, Iceland and the United States and in boys in Canada, Greece, Israel, Italy, Slovenia and the United States, self reported overweight is over 15 percent. Girls in Poland, Norway, Lithuania and the Russian Federation and boys in Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Lithuania overweight and obesity prevalence remains lower. The report says that in the last decade, the prevalence of self reported obesity has risen.
The reason behind this childhood obesity remains the unhealthy diet and exercise environment with promotion of unhealthy foods targeted towards children and also lack of regular physical activity and more sedentary habits.