`Obesity a 'Looming Epidemic' in Developing Countries, World Bank Says

Health

Obesity a 'Looming Epidemic' in Developing Countries, World Bank Says

Feb. 10, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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Α new report released by the World Bank indi­cates that high rates of obe­sity are found among pop­u­la­tions in devel­op­ing coun­tries, over­turn­ing the com­mon belief that obe­sity is only a prob­lem among the devel­oped and wealthy nations of the world.

Putting more resources on the front­lines to detect and treat con­di­tions early, before they become more seri­ous, saves lives, improves health out­comes, reduces health care costs and strength­ens pre­pared­ness.- Muham­mad Pate, World Bank researcher

More than 70 per­cent of the 2 bil­lion over­weight peo­ple in the world live in low- or mid-income coun­tries, the report stated, mak­ing obe­sity a global chal­lenge with sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences on health and econ­omy.

As coun­tries grow eco­nom­i­cally and per capita incomes rise, the dev­as­tat­ing impact and bur­den of obe­sity will con­tinue to shift toward the poor,” Meera Shekar, co-author of the report, said.

Due to the high obe­sity lev­els, life expectancy is reduced while dis­abil­i­ties and health care costs increase to $7 tril­lion in devel­op­ing coun­tries in the next 15 years.

With the excep­tion of Sub-Saha­ran African coun­tries, obe­sity-related dis­eases are now one of the three most com­mon causes of mor­tal­ity world­wide, being respon­si­ble for an annual death toll of four mil­lion peo­ple since 1975.

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Bad nutri­tional habits includ­ing eat­ing ultra-processed and sug­ary foods and lim­ited phys­i­cal activ­ity are the main dri­vers of the obe­sity epi­demic, the report said, while an effec­tive way to con­front it is by cre­at­ing qual­ity pri­mary health care sys­tems and imple­ment­ing other pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

This makes sense both from a health and an eco­nomic per­spec­tive,” Muham­mad Pate, global direc­tor for health, nutri­tion and pop­u­la­tion at the World Bank, said. Putting more resources on the front­lines to detect and treat con­di­tions early, before they become more seri­ous, saves lives, improves health out­comes, reduces health care costs and strength­ens pre­pared­ness.”

Other mea­sures to pre­vent the fur­ther rise of obe­sity lev­els are edu­cat­ing con­sumers, man­dat­ing processed food label­ing and enforc­ing tax­a­tion of unhealthy foods, reduc­ing the con­sump­tion of salt and sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages, and devel­op­ing nutri­tion pro­grams for chil­dren.



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