Developing nations facing obesity epidemic

A global policy group called on the developing nations to tackle rising incidence of obesity.

Washington: A global policy group has called on the governments of developing nations to take comprehensive action to tackle the rising incidence of obesity.

According to a new report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), obesity levels have reached endemic proportions in such countries, reports Discovery News.

The OECD assessed obesity levels in the emerging countries of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa.

It said low-income countries could not cope with the health consequences of wide-scale obesity.

Rates in Brazil and South Africa already outstrip the OECD average.

According to OECD, the increasing prosperity in some developing countries has led to a rise in ‘Western’ lifestyles, thus resulting in an obesity surge.

Across all the countries represented in the OECD, 50 percent of adults are overweight or obese.

Rates in the Russian Federation are only just below this, and while fewer than 20 percent of Indians are classed this way, and fewer than 30 percent of Chinese people, the body says things are worsening fast.

The report recommends that these countries should act now to slow the increase, with media campaigns promoting healthier lifestyles, taxes and subsidies to improve diets, tighter government regulation of food labelling and restrictions on food advertising.

The authors believe that by doing this would add one million years of ‘life in good health’ to India``s population, and four million to China over the next 20 years.

The cost would be considerable - the equivalent of hundreds of pounds per year in both countries.

However, the OECD insists that the strategy would pay for itself in terms of reduced health care costs, becoming cost-effective at worst within 15 years.