Herald-Whig View

Obesity report is no surprise, yet still alarming

Posted: Jun. 19, 2017 11:45 am

A REPORT released last week on the obesity problem came as no surprise, but it should nonetheless be sounding alarm bells around the globe.

A study led by a team at the University of Washington in Seattle and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that more than 107 million children and 603 million adults around the world are obese, or 1 in 10 people.

Among the most troubling statistics uncovered by researchers who reported on 195 countries was that obesity rates doubled in 73 countries between 1980 and 2015. Moreover, it has tripled in children and young adults in countries such as China, Brazil and Indonesia.

The picture is bleak in the United States. While about 5 percent of children and 12 percent of adults were obese worldwide in 2015, estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about 17 percent of children and 38 percent of adults are obese in the U.S.

In fact, the U.S. had the largest number of obese adults in 2015, with 79 million. The CDC estimates that between 30 and 35 percent of adults are obese in Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.

The Los Angeles Times reported this month that researchers from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics calculated that 38 percent of American adults were obese as of 2014, up from 34 percent in 2006. The prevalence of obesity increased among women during that period, but not men.

In addition, the odds of being obese fluctuated with age, the newspaper reported.

The researchers found that 41 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s were obese, compared with 34 percent of adults in their 20s and 30s and 39 percent of adults ages 60 and older.

The most recent study found that about 4 million deaths were attributed to being overweight or obese globally in 2014, from causes such as heart disease and diabetes.

Clearly, eating healthy food and remaining physically active are two common-sense ways to help prevent unhealthy weight gain. But Dr. Ashkan Afshin, the University of Washington study's lead author, admitted that "there is no single simple solution for the problem of overweight and obesity."

However, with adults and children alike packing on the pounds, awareness must be raised and solutions found. Otherwise, weight-related health problems will continue to take a physical and financial toll, and our current generation of kids will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.