Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, WHO warned

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, Once associated with high-income countries, obesity is now also prevalent in low- and middle-income countries. Thus WHO publishes 10 facts on obesity.
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Feb. 21, 2010 - PRLog -- On February 16, 2010, WHO published 10 facts on obesity to arouse people’s attention on obesity as at least 2.6 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. This new fact files describes the problem and options for obesity prevention:

(1) Overweight and obesity are defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health"

WHO defines overweight as a Body mass index (BMI) equal to or more than 25, and obesity as a BMI equal to or more than 30.

(2) One billion adults are overweight

One billion adults are overweight and more than 300 million are obese. Without action, the overweight figure will surpass 1.5 billion by 2015. At least 2.6 million people each year die as a result of being overweight or obese.

(3) Globally, over 42 million children under five years of age are overweight

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Overweight children are likely to become obese adults. They are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age, which in turn are associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability.

(4) Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide

65% of the world's population live in a country where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. This includes all high-income and middle-income countries. Globally, 44% of diabetes, 23% of ischaemic heart disease and 7–41% of certain cancers are attributable to overweight and obesity.

(5) Obesity is usually the result of an imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended

An increased consumption of highly calorific foods, without an equal increase in physical activity, leads to an unhealthy increase in weight of a person.

(6) Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices and preventing obesity.

Individual responsibility can only have its full effect where people have access to a healthy lifestyle, and are supported to make healthy choices. WHO mobilizes the range of stakeholders who have vital roles to play in shaping healthy environments and making healthier diet options affordable and easily accessible.

(7) Children's choices, diet and physical activity habits are influenced by their surrounding environment.

Social and economic development as well as policies in the areas of agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, education, food processing, distribution and marketing influence children's dietary habits and preferences as well as their physical activity patterns. Increasingly, these influences are promoting unhealthy weight gain and hence childhood woddf obesity.

(8) Eating a healthy diet can help prevent obesity

People can maintain a healthy weight through:
1) limiting the total fat intake and, when consume, shifting to unsaturated fats
2) increasing consumption of fruit, vegetables, pulses, whole grains and nuts
3) limiting the intake of sugar and salt.

(9) Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy body

People should engage in adequate levels of physical activity throughout their lives. At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. Muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce falls and improve mobility among older adults. More activity may be required for weight control.

(10) Curbing the global obesity epidemic requires a population-based multisectoral, multi-disciplinary, and culturally relevant approach.

WHO's Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases provides a roadmap to establish and strengthen initiatives for the surveillance, prevention and management of noncommunicable diseases, including obesity.

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