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article imageSoaring obesity rates due to abundance of calorie-laden food

By Alex Ritman     Jul 1, 2015 in Health
Rising obesity rates worldwide may be linked to the increasing availability of energy-dense foods within society according to a new study.
Writing in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, scientists studied the link between obesity rates and the supply of high-calorie foods. Using data provided from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), researchers found that in 56 of the 69 countries examined in the study, body weight and the amount of calories consumed had gone up.
The team, led by Stefanie Vandevijvere from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said the increase of available calories was “more than enough” to explain the obesity epidemic.
“We know that other factors have also changed over these decades such as increased urbanization, car dependence and sedentary occupations, which are also contributing to the global obesity epidemic” said Vandevijvere. “However, our study shows that oversupply of available calories is a likely driver of overconsumption of those calories and can readily explain the weight gain seen in most countries.”
The link between increased calorie consumption and obesity rates was also notable in high-income countries, suggesting that “a growing and excessive food supply is contributing to higher energy intake, as well as to increasing food waste.”
Dr Francesco Branca, director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO, warned that governments need to implement comprehensive policy strategies to make food more healthy and prevent it from being marketed to young children.
“Countries need to look at how they guide the food system. This means working across several sectors including agriculture, the food production, distribution and retail industries, health, social welfare and education,” said Dr Branca.
In the U.S., more than two thirds of Americans are obese or overweight. The dangers of obesity include greater risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The CDC estimates in its latest data that the medical cost of treating obesity is “$1,429 higher than those of normal weight.”
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