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30% of world is now fat, no country immune

Highest rates in Middle East and North Africa, where nearly 60% of men and 65% of women are heavy.

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MARIA CHENG | AP

Published — Thursday 29 May 2014

 

LONDON: Almost a third of the world is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis.
Researchers found more than 2 billion people worldwide are now overweight or obese.
The highest rates were in the Middle East and North Africa, where nearly 60 percent of men and 65 percent of women are heavy. The US has about 13 percent of the world’s fat population, a greater percentage than any other country. China and India combined have about 15 percent.
“It’s pretty grim,” said Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the study. He and colleagues reviewed more than 1,700 studies covering 188 countries from 1980 to 2013. “When we realized that not a single country has had a significant decline in obesity, that tells you how hard a challenge this is.”

Murray said there was a strong link between income and obesity; as people get richer, their waistlines also tend to start bulging. He said scientists have noticed accompanying spikes in diabetes and that rates of cancers linked to weight, like pancreatic cancer, are also rising.
The new report was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published online Thursday in the journal, Lancet.Last week, the World Health Organization established a high-level commission tasked with ending childhood obesity.

“Our children are getting fatter,” Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general, said bluntly during a speech at the agency’s annual meeting in Geneva. “Parts of the world are quite literally eating themselves to death.” Earlier this year, WHO said that no more than 5 percent of your daily calories should come from sugar.

“Modernization has not been good for health,” said Syed Shah, an obesity expert at UAE University, who found obesity rates have jumped five times in the last 20 years even in a handful of remote Himalayan villages in Pakistan.
His research was presented at a recent conference in Bulgaria.
“Years ago, people had to walk for hours if they wanted to make a phone call,” he said.
“Now everyone has a cellphone.”

Shah also said the villagers no longer have to rely on their own farms for food.
“There are roads for (companies) to bring in their processed foods and the people don’t have to slaughter their own animals for meat and oil,” he said.
“No one knew about Coke and Pepsi 20 years ago. Now it’s everywhere.”
In Britain, the independent health watchdog issued new advice recommending that heavy people be sent to free weight-loss classes to drop about 3 percent of their weight.
It reasoned that losing just a few pounds improves health and is more realistic.
About two in three adults in the UK are overweight, making it the fattest country in Western Europe.
“This is not something where you can just wake up one morning and say, ‘I am going to lose 10 pounds,’” said Mike Kelly, the agency’s public health director, in a statement. “It takes resolve and it takes encouragement.”

 

Saudi Arabia proposes that only pharmacies sell energy drinks

Energy Drinks Danger

Arab News | 26 May 2014/26 Rajab 1435

The Kingdom’s Consumer Protection Society is preparing a proposal to demand limiting the sales of energy drinks to pharmacies and to customers above the age of 18.
Society Chairman Nasir Al-Tuwaim said: “We drafted this proposal two days ago to limit the sale of these drinks to pharmacies and to consumers only over 18 years old.”
The drinks are in high demand by teenagers and young men who are often exposed to the harmful effects of the beverages. “Some people have died of addiction to these drinks,” Al-Tuwaim added.

Explaining the downside of the energy drinks, he said that consumers often mix them with alcohol to create a deadly potion which build up toxins in the body and might lead to kidney failure or even death.

“People at high risk of danger from these drinks are students or fitness enthusiasts who develop an addiction for them while trying to stay up late during exams or to enhance their performance in sports,” he added.

He pointed out that like smoking which has not been banned in the Kingdom despite its harmful effects, energy drinks are equally popular. “We are trying to build awareness among youngsters so they stop buying the stuff. This is the best way to counter the sale of the drinks and their harmful effects,” Al-Tuwaim underlined.

The Council of Ministers has announced its intention to stop advertising energy drinks through all the media. Earlier, it banned energy drink companies, its sales representatives and marketing staff from sponsoring sports, social or cultural events, or carrying out any activity to promote these drinks.

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