A drastic increase in the cost to personal health and government health budgets is being predicted.
Barry Popkin, professor at the University of North Carolina reported to the International Association of Agricultural Economists that at the number of overweight people currently is more than the number of starving people worldwide.
AdvertisementAll of the world's nations -- regardless of economic status -- have failed to address the obesity epidemic, according to his report. 1 billion people in the world are obese and the increase is drastic. On the other hand, the rate of hunger is reducing and the number of undernourished people is about 800 million.
Professor Tony Barnett, head of the diabetes and obesity group at Birmingham University, said it was clear that "this is not just happening in developed countries, the developing world also has serious problems."
"The biggest increases are being seen in parts of Asia with certain populations more susceptible than others," he said. "If we do not get to grips with this, problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are going to increase rapidly."
"Contrary to popular belief," explained Mike Adams, a holistic nutritionist and author of the Honest Food Guide, "most overweight people are simultaneously malnourished. They've been made fat by consuming empty calories that lack any real nutrition."
According to Popkin, nations that had previously enjoyed a relatively healthy population are likely to have an overweight population. China, forinstance, has shown a major shift from diets rich in cereals to ones rich in animal fats and oils. Physical work levels have also decreased, use of motorized transportation has gone up, and so has watching television
. "Governments should combat the problem through strategies such as using prices to steer people toward healthier food choices" said Popkin
. "For instance, if we charge money for every calorie of soft drink and fruit drink that was consumed, people would consume less of it," he said. "If we subsidize fruit and vegetable production, people would consume more of it and we would have a healthier diet."
Professor Benjamin Senauer of the University of Minnesota, citing a study he did of U.S. obesity rates compared to those in Japan, agreed with Popkin.
"The average Japanese household spends almost a quarter of its income on food compared to under 14 percent in the U.S.," he said, adding that exercise also played an important role in the health differences. "Japanese cities are based on efficient public transportation and walking. The average American commutes to work, drives to the supermarket and does as little walking as possible."