The increasing prevalence of obesity is a worldwide phenomenon, affecting peoples from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. By Tony Scully.
Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension and has become one of the leading threats to public health worldwide.
Off the scale
The prevalence of obesity has almost doubled from 6.4% in 1980 to 12.0% in 2008. Half of this rise occurred between 2000 to 2008.
Increasing urbanization can negatively affect diets. People tend to eat more energy-dense foods containing more fat and sugar while reducing their intake of complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre.
Rise of the calories
Since the 1960s, the availability of calories per person has risen steadily across all economic zones.
In mortal danger
Health surveys in the United States between 1986 and 2006 of people born in a particular year, or ‘birth cohort’, reveal the risk of obesity-related mortality for four major demographic groups. The data shows that risk of death increases as a person ages from 60 years and will likely increase as younger cohorts with earlier onset age.
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Scully, T. Public health: Society at large. Nature 508, S50–S51 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/508S50a
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