Chewing the Fat on Obesity in the Region

Chewing the Fat on Obesity in the Region

July 09, 2013 at 10:07am

As we struggle in many countries across the globe to address the rising epidemic of obesity, it’s hard to imagine that only a few generations ago, in these same countries, hunger and undernutrition was the daily concern. Even more ironic is that in some developing countries today, they are confronting both problems at the same time.

Such is the complex nature of the obesity challenge.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about this issue that it has just published advice to developing countries on how to address the twin challenge of undernutrition and obesity in children. The WHO says that globally, 165 million children are “stunted,” i.e., they have a low height for their age, implying chronic undernutrition. At the same time, approximately 43 million children under five are overweight or obese.

Meanwhile, in the United States (US), the catastrophic impact of mass obesity has led a well-respected healthcare-focused research organization to issue a study entitled: “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future.” The report shows that if obesity rates continue on their current trajectory, by 2030 adult obesity rates could reach or exceed 44 percent in every US state.

The study paints a grim picture of what this means: “New cases of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could skyrocket.”

Given that obesity rates in many countries of this region are as high, or higher, than those in the US, the future here is equally concerning.

The question is: What can be done? One solution comes from governments and health authorities. Across this region, these organizations are running information and awareness campaigns to address obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.

Elsewhere, some argue that governments should take steps to increase information to consumers, such as the US Food and Drug Administration’s anticipated requirement that all large restaurant and grocery chains put calorie information on their menus. Preliminary studies show that this helps people make healthier choices.

What’s for sure, though, is that as individuals, we can each take steps to live healthier, whether by limiting how much fat, sugar and fast-food we eat, by increasing the amount of vegetables and fresh fruit we consume, and by being more active throughout the day.

This is just what GE’s annual #GetFit program seeks to encourage. It inspires people to share their healthy habits using social media and to compete in its global healthy living challenge. First held in 2010, #GetFit is part of GE Healthcare’s global quest to share the healthy living message by engaging audiences via social networks.

Are you making small changes in your everyday routine to improve your health?

If so, join #GetFit and share how you get healthy on Twitter by clicking here.

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