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New country study in honor of World Health Day

04/04/2011

World Health Day, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO),  is celebrated every year on 7 April.

This year, the Window on America Center decided that we wanted to call attention to the global obesity epidemic, and have put together the newest country study, called Obesity, which is now available on the Window on America web page.

Did you know that worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980?  Obesity, which is preventable, has spread rapidly in the past 30 years, and is currently the fifth leading cause for global deaths, and is currently associated with more deaths than people who are underweight. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Obesity also is associated with many other preventable and dangerous health conditions, from Diabetes to heart disease and Cancer, which either increase a person’s risk of premature death or lead to serious chronic conditions that reduce the overall quality of life.

Obesity also costs countries

Why are so many people overweight and obese? Globally, there has been:

  • an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and
  • a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.

Obesity is predominantly a social and environmental disease. It is essential that we become aware not only of the problem, but how to solve it. Prevention is more cost effective than treatment, both in terms of economic and personal costs. Health care providers and policy makers need to appreciate the importance of obesity and its prevention, and develop effective polices and programs to prevent obesity. And individuals need to make sure they decrease their risk for obesity by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.

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