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The Global Problem of Obesity

More Than Half of Those in Worldwide Study Overweight or Obese

Reversing the Obesity Trend

While people living in southern and eastern Asia fared better than other populations in terms of obesity and waist circumference, the researchers point out that this is not necessarily reassuring because their rates of obesity are also rising.

American Heart Association spokesman Gerald Fletcher, MD, of the Jacksonville branch of the Mayo Clinic, tells WebMD that the study provides important confirmation of the global reach of obesity.

"We have known that obesity is a worldwide problem, but this is the largest study yet to actually show this," he says.

Balkau and colleagues conclude that unless the trend is reversed, the rise in obesity will result in major increases in sickness and death from related diseases like diabetes.

Fletcher agrees, adding that major public health initiatives are needed to address the problem.

"We have seen that such initiatives can work to reduce cigarette smoking," he says. “We have to have the same kind of commitment to make a difference in obesity rates."

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