July 13th, 2016
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According to an analysis by the McKinsey Global Initiative, obesity ranks third, behind smoking and armed violence, war and terrorism, in its global social burden, or about $2 trillion or 2.8% of global gross domestic product (GDP) approximately equal to the GDP of Russia or Italy. Lost productivity may be responsible for 70% of total costs. “In the United States, armed conflict (and especially spending on the military) has the highest social and economic impact, and obesity is second; obesity generated an impact in the United States of $664 billion a year in 2012, or 4.1% of GDP.” As jaw-dropping as that analysis, the situation may be worse. A new paper by Hruschka and Hadley posits that worldwide variation in human body weights are far more widespread that previously thought. The use of standard cut-offs might lead to underestimating global obesity levels by 400-500 million while also incorrectly prioritizing high-risk areas for undernutrition in children.
May 29th, 2014
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The Lancet has published an analysis of the global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults between 1980-2013. The bottom line: overweight and obesity is increasing in children and adults, among men and women in developed and developing countries, albeit at different rates. No national success story in preventing or controlling obesity has been reported in the past 33 years. The abstract reads, in part, “Worldwide, the proportion of adults with a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m2 or greater increased between 1980 and 2013 from 28·8% (95% UI 28·4—29·3) to 36·9% (36·3—37·4) in men, and from 29·8% (29·3—30·2) to 38·0% (37·5—38·5) in women. Prevalence has increased substantially in children and adolescents in developed countries; 23·8% (22·9—24·7) of boys and 22·6% (21·7—23·6) of girls were overweight or obese in 2013. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has also increased in children and adolescents in developing countries, from 8·1% (7·7—8·6) to 12·9% (12·3—13·5) in 2013 for boys and from 8·4% (8·1—8·8) to 13·4% (13·0—13·9) in girls. In adults, estimated prevalence of obesity exceeded 50% in men in Tonga and in women in Kuwait, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, Tonga, and Samoa. Since 2006, the increase in adult obesity in developed countries has slowed down. Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene.”