Paris: Obesity is becoming the most prevalent public health problem in industrialised nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Thursday, and called on governments to take comprehensive action to tackle it. Since 1980, when fewer than one in 10 people in OECD member nations were obese, rates have doubled and even tripled in many countries, the OECD said in a report released Thursday in Paris.
Women are more often obese than men, but male obesity rates have been growing faster than female rates in most OECD countries. In addition, obesity is more common among the poor and the less educated. These social disparities are also present in obesity rates for children, the organisation said. Perhaps not surprisingly, the problem is most acute in the world`s most prosperous country, the US, where in 2008 nearly three in four women and two in three men were overweight, and about one-third of all adults were obese. As a result, obesity accounts for between five and 10 percent of total health expenditure in the US, compared to one to three percent in most other countries. "And costs will rise rapidly in coming years as obesity-related diseases set in," the OECD warned. The organisation called on governments to take action to "help people change their lifestyle", including health education and promotion, regulation and fiscal measures as well as lifestyle counseling by physicians. These methods "are a better investment than many treatments currently provided by OECD health care systems", the organisation said. Such a comprehensive strategy would prevent 155,000 deaths from chronic diseases in Japan every year, 75,000 in Italy, 70,000 in Britain and 40,000 in Canada. -IANS
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