Is Obesity the Elephant in the Room?

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Obesity now kills more people worldwide than car crashes, terror attacks, and Alzheimer's combined

 

 

A global group of researchers, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, came out with the best estimate yet on the worldwide obesity burden, and found that more than 10 percent of the world's population is now obese — that's 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults. 

1) The main driver of obesity is not lack of exercise 

As Diana Thomas, a Montclair State University obesity researcher advises, "There are all kinds of reasons to exercise that are good for your health. However, if you're trying to lose weight, the biggest problem I see is food. We need to cut back the food we're eating."

Indeed, the evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

2) Obesity contributed to 7 percent of all deaths globally in 2015

Having a high body weight is now considered a risk factor for a range of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and a number of cancers. And as obesity has become more common, so has the toll for these health problems.

It’s more than the deaths caused by traffic accidents, Alzheimer’s, or other deadly issues that get a lot of airtime, like terrorism, combined.

 



3) Childhood obesity is growing faster than adult obesity — and the US rate is one of the worst

This news comes along with a growing body of evidence that being overweight or obese in youth can hurt your heart health and increase your risk of death. We also know that when people are obese as children, it can cut into life expectancy in a serious way.

4) Medical advances have helped reduce obesity-related deaths in rich countries

This isn't because obesity is any less dangerous here or now; it's because of advances in medicine that have helped people manage their high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, the researchers said.

5) There are some countries where the obesity rate is still quite low

While no country has managed to cut its obesity levels, there are some countries where obesity rates remain low. The prevalence of obesity was lowest among adults in Vietnam, a middle-income country, and children in Bangladesh — a poor country where only a little over 1 percent of those populations are now obese.

“Today, for the first time in history, more people are dying from too much unhealthy food than they are from too little healthy food,” Mike Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, said in a statement. “This is a global epidemic that governments can no longer ignore, because there are many steps that they can take to tackle obesity and save lives.”

 

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