Thursday, September 23, 2010
The World is Fat
Americans often think of obesity as a uniquely American problem, and it is true that only Mexico has a higher rate of obesity and overweight, but a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, reported on by the New York Times, reminds us that obesity is a worldwide epidemic that affects all rich nations. Severely obese people die 8-10 years younger than people of healthy weight and every extra 15 kgs of weight (33 pounds) increases the likelihood of early death by 30%. Despite the tremendous costs the rate of overweight and obesity is skyrocketing. By 2020 75% of the United States, 70% of the UK, 65% of Australia and majorities of Spain and Canada will be overweight; 70% of people in Mexico already are. Obesity (being severely overweight) is more medically worrying than overweight, and it too is skyrocketing, reaching 16% among males and 17% among females across the OECD, 30% in Mexico and 28% in the United States. Across countries, the rates of obesity tend to be highest among the poor and uneducated who have less access to healthy foods and know less about healthy choices. In it's only encouraging note, the report does say that small investments in prevention could save lives at very low costs.
The executive summary is available here, and the report dealing specifically with the United States, here.