Obesity Epidemic Increasing Rapidly in Developing Countries

Developing countries are becoming victims to the obesity epidemic, suggesting that increased affluence is a breeding ground for obesity. The OECD suggests …

The obesity epidemic that spreads across most western, developed countries is seeping into developing parts of the world as prosperity in those regions increases. Prosperity seems to be a major force in increasing reasons for weight-gain.

Affluence has become a breeding ground for the obesity epidemic. As developing countries gain affluence, their rates of obesity simultaneously increase, which poses economic problems in addition to the health problems of obesity.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD), obesity levels are rising fast.

OECD, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), analyzed obesity in six growing countries- Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, China and India- and studied possible strategies to reverse the increasing rates.

According to the report, seven in 10 adults are overweight or obese in Mexico. In Brazil, South Africa and Russia, about 50% of adults are overweight or obese. Obesity levels are lower in India and China, though they are quickly increasing.

In the UK and the United States, the obesity epidemic brought higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The additional health problems accompanied by obesity are consequences that developing countries will struggle to cope with. These health problems are expensive and should be avoided. If low-income countries act now, they can save cost as well as lives.

The report suggests that if governments work in coordination with one another, they can promote healthier living cost-affectively. Governments need to take action to regulate food campaigns, taxes on unhealthy products, and health advertising in order to promote healthier lifestyles.

While these efforts may seem costly in the short-term, the long-term benefits will prove cost-affective because the program will ultimately pay for itself through reduced healthcare costs, the OECD reports.

“A multiple intervention strategy would achieve substantially larger health gains than individual programs, with better cost-effectiveness,” says Michele Cecchini, an OECD health policy analyst.

The benefits of reversing rising obesity are tremendous. Developing countries should learn from countries like the United States and combat the problem before it becomes more difficult and expensive.

Developing countries should act now to prevent the obesity epidemic from reaching the levels it has in many western countries, such as the U.S.