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OBESITY A GROWING DANGER

What is obesity?
Obesity has been in the international classification of diseases for over a century. BMI {weight (kg)/ height (m)} is a simple and very usable measure to estimate prevalence. A BMI level of 25 or more is classified as overweight and 30 or more is classified as obese. Overweight and obesity occur when more energy (measured in calories) is consumed than is spent through exercise. Diets which are high in fat and sugar are “energy-dense”, earning that they have many calories. Energy-dense diets contribute to obesity and overweight.

Overweight and obesity
•globally, over 1.5 billion adults are Overweight; 500 million of them are obese.
•Nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.
•Around the world, obesity has more than Doubled since 1980.
•Worldwide, overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths than underweight.

Overweight and obesity are serious threats to health
•Overweight and obesity increase the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
•Almost 3 million deaths a year are attributed to overweight/obesity.
•Overweight and obesity is the fifth highest risk factor for death, ahead of alcohol, unsafe sex, or poor sanitation and water supply.
•Obese children are more often ill or disabled in adulthood and are likely to die earlier than those of normal weight.

What can be done?
Healthy diet and physical activity can largely prevent obesity and overweight.
Governments, international partners, civil society, NGOs, the private sector and communities have vital roles to play in changing the policies and practices that shape behavior around diet and physical activity. These include the trade, agriculture, transport and other urban planning policies that determine whether people have healthy options, as well as investment in education, media and marketing that influence people’s choices.
Insisting that health impact be a priority for policy in these different areas (e.g. agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education, and health) can help reduce obesity and overweight.