It’s no secret that more people are obese today than they were thirty years ago, but there may be good news on the horizon. According to a report published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, obesity rates failed to increase as much as expected and didn’t increase at all in some countries.
In the United States and Canada, obesity rates grew by 4 to 5%, which was less than expected, and childhood obesity rates appear to have stabilized. The bad news? Almost one in three children are overweight or obese, and over 35% of adults meet the criteria for obesity. Despite flattening of the obesity curve, a significant portion of the population is still waging a battle to control their body weight despite public health efforts to encourage people to eat healthily and stay active.
As experts point out, it can take a decade or more to see results from public health campaigns aimed at obesity. So it may be ten to fifteen years before we see a drop-off in obesity rates even if people respond to public health messages and make efforts to change their lifestyle. It’s a positive sign that the rise in obesity rates among adults is slowing down and has stabilized among American kids.
Male Obesity Rates Climb Higher
Women have a higher rate of obesity than men, but rates of male obesity are climbing faster in many countries including the United States. That’s bad news since men carry more of their excess weight deep in their abdominal region. Deep abdominal fat, called visceral fat, is linked with higher rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s not clear why male obesity rates are climbing faster than they are in women, but it seems that obesity rates among men have “caught up” with those of women.
Other Insights on From the Obesity Report
According to the OECD obesity update, people who are markedly obese die an average of nine years earlier than their normal weight counterparts. Obesity increases the risk of a variety of chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and some forms of cancer. Obesity is as powerful of a health risk as smoking.
Obesity affects a person’s earning power too. According to this report, obese people earn as much as 18% less than normal weight people. Whether this relates to discrimination or is due to the fact that obese people miss more days of work and are less productive on the job isn’t clear. They’re also more likely to go on short-term disability.
Why is Obesity Such a Prevalent Problem?
Although there’s a genetic component to obesity, most experts believe obesity rates are high because of the simple equation – calories in versus calories out. These days people have easy access to inexpensive food, and they don’t even have to get out of their car to get it. Gone are the days of having to grow food and take the time to prepare it. It’s simpler to go through a drive-through window.
It’s also not necessary to walk anywhere when you can jump in your car where the only exercise you get is pushing on the gas pedal and turning the steering wheel. Fortunately, more people are getting the message that they need to be more active and be more aware of what and how much they put into their mouth. Will we see a decline in the obesity rate over the next decade? Hopefully so.
Association for the Study of Obesity. “OECD Obesity Update 2012”
Time.com. “U.S. Obesity Rates Remain Stubbornly High”
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