Monday, 18 January 2021

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30% of world population overweight or obese

Flickr Steve Baker 2.0 Generic CC BY-ND 2.0

21 November 2014. While continuing to tackle hunger and starvation, efforts are needed against obesity, the growing epidemic of the 21st century. 65% of the world's population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. Approximately 2.1 billion people, about 30% of the world's population, are overweight or obese.

According to a recent study, the global cost of obesity is about the same as smoking or armed conflict and greater than both alcoholism and climate change.

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), organized in Rome 19-21 November addressed all forms of malnutrition, including both under- and over-nutrition, recognizing the nutrition transition taking place in developing world.

At the opening of ICN2, ministers and top officials from over 170 countries endorsed political Declaration and Framework for Action to tackle hunger and obesity. The declaration involves a number of concrete commitments and a series of recommendations on policies and investments aimed at ensuring that all people have access to healthier and more sustainable diets.

Flickr FAOALC 2.0 Generic CC BY-NC-SA 2.0FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: "We have the knowledge, expertise and resources needed to overcome all forms of malnutrition. Governments must lead the way," he said. “But the push to improve global nutrition must be a joint effort, involving civil society organizations and the private sector.”

Once a problem associated with high income, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries. The economic and cultural changes in developing countries, such as urbanization, has been followed by a shift from traditional diets high in cereal and fiber towards more Western diets high in sugars and fat.

Obesity has the capacity to diminish people’s capacity to work and divert resources to health care. Overweight is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers. Many developing countries and countries with economies in transition are now facing a "double burden" of disease. While continuing to fight against infectious disease and under-nutrition, they are experiencing a rapid increase in overweight and non-communicable diseases.

WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, said: "The world's food system – with its reliance on industrialized production and globalized markets – produces ample supplies, but creates some problems for public health. Part of the world has too little to eat, leaving millions vulnerable to death or disease caused by nutrient deficiencies. Another part overeats, with widespread obesity pushing life-expectancy figures backwards and pushing the costs of health care to astronomical heights."

Photo: WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. 


Ciné-ONU Brussels is screening Fed Up, “a film that food industry doesn’t want you to see” followed by Q&A on 26 November to follow up on the outcomes of the conference.

UNRIC’s related articles:

FAO/Nutrition: Little book, big data

Overfed and undernourished: more doesn’t mean better

Diabetes: a threat to developing countries

Other related links:

WHO Press release: “Countries vow to combat malnutrition through firm policies and actions”

FAO News: “Civil society gears up for nutrition conference”

BBC: “Obesity 'costing same as smoking'”

Guardian: “Obesity soars to 'alarming' levels in developing countries”

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