Report: Obesity problem in developing countries surpasses other nations

A new report by UK think tank Overseas Development Institute says the number of people who are overweight or obese rose 23 percent from 1980 to 2008. But the overweight population in developing countries has surpassed developed countries. About 1.46 billion people, or one-third of the world’s population, is obese or overweight. But 904 million […]

A new report by UK think tank Overseas Development Institute says the number of people who are overweight or obese rose 23 percent from 1980 to 2008. But the overweight population in developing countries has surpassed developed countries.
About 1.46 billion people, or one-third of the world’s population, is obese or overweight. But 904 million who are overweight are in developing countries compared with 557 million in developed countries. Obesity is a worrying trend in healthcare as it increases the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Many countries in the developing world are facing a two-pronged problem of hunger and obesity.Geographically, the most dramatic increase in overweight people has been  Southeast Asia, where numbers rose from  7 percent to 22 percent, according to a BBC analysis.Some of the biggest drivers behind the weight gain is the fact that with rising incomes people have more choice of what they want to eat. That has led to a shift from eating cereals and grains to greater consumption of fats, sugar and oils.  An increase in city dwellers can mean less opportunity for exercise.

One of the conclusions of the report is that governments need to take a less timid approach to diets similar to the way they have addressed smoking.

When taking action to limit smoking, governments have often led the way, driven by the strong evidence from medical studies showing the harm caused by cigarettes. Although diet is a more diverse and complex issue than smoking, there may be scope for government to take more incremental measures, perhaps using measures in combination, to pave the way for public acceptance that something needs to be done if future health costs are to be contained.

A 2013 World Health Organization report offered a dramatic illustration of the spread of obesity. It pointed out that its spread to almost every region of the world meant that the years of life lost from obesity outnumber those lost by hunger.