The obesity epidemic is now so widespread it is hurting economies as much as war and terrorism, new research reveals.
More than 2.1 billion people are overweight or obese – costing the world US $2 trillion a year. And while China has lower obesity rates than advanced economies, its numbers are rising fast.
The study, published by McKinsey & Company, calculated the combined social burden by estimating the cost of health care, lost productivity and mitigating the impact of obesity.
According to the research, obesity costs US$600 billion more than alcoholism, US$1.1 trillion more than outdoor air pollution and US$1.3 trillion more than drug use. It has the same impact on the economy as war and terrorism, and is just short of having the same negative impact as smoking.
Almost 30 per cent of the world’s people are overweight or obese, more than twice the number who are undernourished.
McKinsey estimates that if obesity rates continue, almost half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.
A report in medical journal The Lancet reveals China has 62 million obese people – behind only the United States.
While the battle of the bulge remains a relatively adult problem in China, obesity in children is growing at alarming rates. Almost a quarter – about 23 per cent – of Chinese boys under the age of 20 are either overweight or obese, as are 14 per cent of girls.
The prevalence of obesity in cities is up to four times that in rural areas. And obesity rates are expected to rise as incomes go up in poorer areas.
China is attempting to combat the growing obesity problem by constructing more playgrounds and making exercise mandatory in schools.
However, McKinsey argues that obesity reduction requires engagement from many sectors, including government, retailers, consumer-goods companies, restaurants, media organisations, educators and health-care providers.
It’s so important to emphasize that the obesity crisis is a global problem. FoodFacts.com also wants to emphasize that the growth of this crisis tracks closely with the enormous growth in the availability and popularity of processed foods, junk foods and fast foods across the globe. That’s not coincidental. Fat, sugar and sodium ARE the issues of the day. Controversial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup are adversely affecting our health, regardless of how the food industry attempts to explain them away.
Obesity, at its most minor level, changes people’s lifestyles in countless negative manners. At it’s worst, it causes debilitating disease and death. And it’s costing countries horrendous amounts of money for a condition that is completely preventable. It’s time to make real changes to our food supply on a global level.