Davos Talks: Global Obesity 'Pandemic' Emergency

by AFP ,  AFP | 2013-01-27

Within two decades, Obesity will become a global pandemic that could leave more than half of all adults worldwide overweight, experts say at WEF in Davos. They are calling for urgent action beyond just blaming people for lacking willpower.

Health, fitness and nutrition experts speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said the world's increasingly deadly obesity crisis needs to be tackled with the same determination policy-makers once took to fighting smoking.

With our food growing more and more unhealthy, and our sedentary lives, answers are needed to address the obesity crisis that is driving up diabetes, boosting heart disease and already killing almost 3 million adults per year, they said. Obesity/Bariatric Surgery

Swiss food giant Nestle CEO, Paul Bulcke, said too much blame was being laid on food companies.

He said Nestle supported "meaningful labeling" of its products and he went on stating that governments had an obligation to increase nutritional education.

MacCallum Carter of Nike said more had to be done to restore physical activity to daily life.

Children needed to be involved in sport and individuals, companies and governments needed to work together to boost physical activity, for example by redesigning urban spaces to require more walking, the experts said

Currently, the figure is of 1.4 billion adults already overweight globally, and it is set to soar, Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

"We have a health emergency, it is global and it is of huge dimensions... We can only solve it together," Fried said.

Fried continued by emphasizing "In another 20 years, if things continue to increase the way they are, it may well be that 50-60 percent of the world's adult population will be overweight".

"If this were an infectious disease we might call it a pandemic. It's not regional, it's global, it's increasing rapidly, it's continuing to escalate -- those are the basic definitions of a pandemic," she said.

The first step to resolving the crisis, the experts said, is overcoming the instinctive reaction many have to obesity, blaming the obese themselves instead of the conditions around them.

"In 30 years, the percent of the world's population that is overweight or obese has doubled," Fried said. "There's no evidence that there has been a collective global loss of willpower."

The blame rests instead with the easy availability -- and relative cheapness -- of higher-calorie foods and increasing urbanization that has led to less active lifestyles, the experts said.

Fried said some policy-makers have taken encouraging steps to fight obesity, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg of her native New York.

His crusade against junk food has seen the city ban the sale of supersize soft drinks and require fast-food restaurants to label menus with calorie information.

The experts said steps like widespread calorie-labeling laws, increased taxes on unhealthy food and limits on portion sizes would make a difference.

Related Medical Tourism News
Focus Area
Free Call