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August 30, 2011
LONDONA four-part series on obesity was published last week in The Lancet that revealed global obesity rates have doubled in the last 30 years, which will lead to millions more cases of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The findings suggest national governments should take an active role in sustained obesity interventions.
The first paper examined the global drivers of the epidemic; the second paper analyzed obesity trends in the United States and United Kingdom and their impact on prevalence of diseases and healthcare spending. The third paper introduced a new web-based bodyweight simulation model that incorporates metabolic adaptations that occur with decreasing bodyweight; and the final paper assessed interventions needed to halt and reverse the epidemic.
In terms of obesity rates in the United States and the United Kingdom, one paper predicts nearly half of all U.S. men and womenan estimated 65 millionwill be obese by 2030; more than 11 million U.K. men and women will be obese by the same year.
Lead author Y. Claire Wang, MD, ScD, of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health warned obesity will replace tobacco as the single, most preventable cause of chronic non-communicable diseases. She estimated medical costs associated with treating those diseases in the United States alone will skyrocket to between $38 billion and $66 billion annually.
Taking no action would have the catastrophic consequences described in our study, but a population level decrease in BMI by 1% would avoid as many as 2.4 million cases of diabetes, 1.7 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and up to 127 000 cases of cancer in the U.S. alone," she said.
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