Obesity bigger threat than hunger in world today, journal says
Disabilities from being overweight cutting into global health
It's a case of being too much instead of too little. Obesity, the state of being more than 30 pounds overweight, has become a much larger health problem in the world today than hunger. Being overweight is the leading cause of disabilities in the world today, according to a new report published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Middle Eastern countries are more obese than ever, seeing a 100 percent increase since 1990.
"We discovered that there's been a huge shift in mortality. Kids who used to die from infectious disease are now doing extremely well with immunization," Ali Mokdad, co-author of the study says. A professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Mokdad and his team led the collaborative study.
"However, the world is now obese and we're seeing the impact of that."
The study found that every country on the globe - with the exception of those in the sub-Saharan section of Africa, has alarming obesity rates. There has been an overwhelming increase of 82 percent globally in the past two decades. In particular, Middle Eastern countries are more obese than ever, seeing a 100 percent increase since 1990.
"The so-called 'Western lifestyle' is being adapted all around the world, and the impacts are all the same," Mokdad said.
Non-communicable diseases, for the very first time such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease top the list of leading causes of years spent sick or injured.
"All these problems are tied to obesity," Mokdad said. "We're even seeing a large percentage of people suffering back pain now. If we could lower the obesity rates, we'd see the numbers of non-communicable diseases and pain decrease as well."
People are living longer than projected in 1990, with 10.7 more years for men, and 12.6 more years for women. However, for many, the quality of life during those years is not good. People now find themselves plagued by illness or pain during the last 14 years of life, according to the study.
Researchers credit advances in medical technology for longer lives.
"We've figured out how to keep the person who suffered a stroke alive, but then they're living disabled for years afterward. That's not the quality of life that person expected," Mokdad said.
In Western countries, deaths from heart disease are down 70 percent. However, the number of people diagnosed with heart disease is still increasing at alarming rates.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Obesity, global health trends, Middle East, sub-saharan Africa, hunger
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