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Obesity weighs heavily on global health

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– Fat child, fat adult? –

The study authors expressed concern that nearly a quarter of kids in developed countries and 13 percent in developing ones were overweight or obese – up from 16 percent and eight percent in 1980.

Thirteen percent of American children are obese, almost 30 percent if you include overweight – up from 19 percent in 1980.

“Particularly high rates of child and adolescent obesity were seen in Middle Eastern and North African countries, notably among girls,” the study authors noted.

Other regional differences included a slower rate of increase in developed countries, but fast expanding waistlines in the Middle East, North Africa, Central America and Pacific and Caribbean Islands – regions where many countries’ overweight rates exceed 44 percent.

Fast gains were measured in Britain and Australia.

Women are heavier in developing countries and men in developed ones, said the study.

The World Health Organisation aims to halt the rise in obesity by 2025, a target the study authors said appeared “very ambitious and unlikely to be attained without concerted action and further research”.

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One solution, said Klim McPherson from Oxford University, was to return to the BMI levels of 1980 — which would mean an eight percent drop in consumption across the UK alone, at a cost to the food industry of some 8.7 billion pounds (11 billion euros) per year.

“The solution has to be mainly political,” he wrote in a comment on the study.

“Where is the international will to act decisively in a way that might restrict economic growth in a competitive world, for the public’s health? Nowhere yet.”

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