The Global Problem of Obesity
More Than Half of Those in Worldwide Study Overweight or Obese
WebMD News Archive
Obesity Worldwide continued...
Just under one in three men and almost half of the women had waist
circumferences of more than 40 and 35, respectively, putting them at higher
risk for heart disease and diabetes.
The rate of diagnosed heart disease among male and female study participants
was 16% and 13%, respectively. A total of 13% of men and 11% of women had known
The men and women in the study with the largest waists were more than twice
as likely as those with the smallest waists to have heart disease.
Diabetes risk was three times higher for the quarter of men with the biggest
waists and almost six times higher for women, compared with the quarter of the
study population with the smallest waists.
The study is published in the latest issue of the American Heart Association
(AHA) journal Circulation.
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
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."