A new study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development discovered that obesity rates are increasing in developing nations. Obesity rates are now higher than they have been at any other time in memory. This is creating a number of consequences they will need to come to terms with over the next few years. Implications of higher obesity rates include higher health care costs and shortened life expectancy.
The OECD evaluated more than 30 countries in its study. They found that obesity rates in those countries ranged from 4% to 30%. However, in the majority of those countries more than 50% of the populace was either obese or overweight. Obesity rates have steadily been increasing in developed nations around the world. The epidemic has increased in developing nations as well, although not to the same degree.
[box type="important"]While these figures are already a concern, the overall trend is even more ominous. In a number of these countries, the OECD expects about 66% of their citizens to be overweight at some point within the next decade.[/box]
These figures will likely significantly curtail life expectancy. Citizens who are significantly overweight are expected to die about 10 years earlier than those at a healthier weight. According to data, every 35 pounds an individual has beyond their optimal weight will increase their likelihood of dying early by about 10%.
The OECD’s findings are also concerning for countries with a high emphasis on public health spending. According to the World Health Organisation, obesity is responsible for about 1 to 3% of all health spending in most countries. The rates are even higher in the United States, where up to one tenth of all health care spending is due to obesity.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has been studying specific countries to assess what trends they are following. Several developed nations including the United Kingdom, Italy and Hungary have not increased as significantly as they had in prior years. The rate has increased more quickly in the United States, Canada and Ireland.
[box type="important"]Many of the trends appear to correlate with different public policies towards foods, such as new taxes on sugar. These figures may give governments some indication on what kinds of policies they may need to implement as they attempt to bring the obesity epidemic under control.[/box]