There are nearly a billion obese and overweight people in the developing world, according to a new report.
According to the Future Diets report, which was recently released by the Overseas Development Institute, the number of obese/overweight adults in developing countries has tripled between 1980 and 2008. Also, some 200 million more people in developed nations are now obese than in the past.
The rise in obesity in some countries has been tied to recent increase in income, BBC reported. About 904 million people in developing countries currently have a Body Mass Index of 25 or above.
Obesity can raise risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis and even some cancers. According to estimates by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of all people living in the U.S are obese. What's worse is that many teens and young adults are now suffering from obesity-related health problems.
"The growing rates of overweight and obesity in developing countries are alarming. On current trends, globally, we will see a huge increase in the number of people suffering certain types of cancer, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, putting an enormous burden on public healthcare systems," Steve Wiggins, ODI Research Fellow, said in a news release.
According to ODI, the expanding waistlines around the world are accelerated by the intake of sugar and fats.
Sugar and sweetener consumption has risen by over a fifth per person globally between 1961 and 2009. The recommended amount of sugar for a person is about 50 g. ODI found that less than half the countries followed the sugar recommendations.
United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Mexico top the list of countries that have high levels of sugar consumption.
Similarly, the world is eating more than the required amount of fat. Again, rich countries have very high levels of competition. But, several East Asian and Southern African countries, too, have revved up their greasy food intake.
Countries that have tackled obesity
The report mentioned governments' initiatives in countries like South Korea and Denmark.
South Korea managed to tame waistlines by launching a public campaign that aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and by training women to cook traditional low-fat foods.
Denmark's policy against trans-fat has made the Danish Mc Donalds one of the healthiest in the world.
Despite the ballooning obesity rates, many people around the world are still hungry. According to the latest report, one in eight people around the world, which is about 852 million people, hasn't got enough food.
The World Health Organization, too, had earlier highlighted the problem of obesity in developing countries. According to the agency, many developing countries are facing the double burden of "malnutrition that includes both undernutrition and overweight". Young children in many of these countries are exposed to high-salt and sugar foods that have very few nutrients, but are very cheap. These unhealthy eating habits lead to obesity and associated disorders.
BMI or body mass index was developed by Belgian scientist Adolphe Quetelet in the 1830s. It is a number calculated according to person's weight and height. Doctors use BMI to assess whether or not a person has healthy weight. A person is underweight if BMI below 18.5, normal if it is 18.5- 24.9, overweight if it is 25.0-29.9 and obese if it is 30.0 and above.
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