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30 percent of world is now fat, no country immune

Study Blames American Obesity on Cheap and Accessible Food

By Maria Cheng

LONDON (AP) - 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 U.S. 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 United Arab Emirates 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 this week at a 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 on Wednesday recommending heavy people be sent to free weight-loss classes to drop about 3 percent of their weight, reasoning that losing just a few pounds improves health and is more realistic. About two in three adults in the U.K. 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."

Join the discussion

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William Blades May 29 2014 at 8:42 AM

I was rear-ended and suffered undiagnosed hydrocephalus (brain inhury) causing me not to be able to walk and then other medical issues popped up calling for more prescriptions. I balloned from exactly 200 to exactly 300 pounds over 3+ years. Once I got my brain injury diagnosed properly, I got back to 200. A month ago, I went to Key West and had more than ample conch and beer. Within a month, I dropped to 200. Giving myself some cushion, I'll be at 190 within a year which is not bad for a 6'1" guy.

I rarely have fast food and almost always stay away from desserts. And my portions are smaller. When we go to a nice restaurant, I'll often bring 1/2 home for the next day.

I just had to get my mind right and stick to it. It's not hard if you have the "I will" in you.

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3 replies
mcwald20 May 29 2014 at 9:07 AM

I live in Clark County Nevada. Near Las Vegas. IT is a shame when I go to a store and see people that cannot walk. They need to use the little electric carts to manuver the aisles in the store. Some even have the Oxygen tanks for help breathing. Also, I am a nosey person and will sneak a peek in the items they buy. Chips, bacon, all the stuff that is not going to help them out of the chair and back to walking. Is is sad.

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3 replies
Goofy ButReal May 29 2014 at 8:16 AM

Now, come on. You have to get to a point where you see yourself and say, "This is getting ridiculous. I have to do something." These people know they are fat. They know what they need to do, something that most people avoid; change.

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2 replies
Nicholas Goofy ButReal May 29 2014 at 12:13 PM

That's where I got. I realized I was only getting worse and knew I had to do something. (JUICING) and it works! You are so right, people have to get off their lazy butt and do something about it. It is just too easy to do nothing and that's why they do it.(nothing)

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1 reply
pmkeepsakes Nicholas May 29 2014 at 2:16 PM

just eat healthy, no need to juice. 3 oz of lean protein, with 3/4 cup vegetables, and 1 serving of fruit every 3 hours. exercise to make your body strong. you won't even want to eat junk anymore!

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lakelanierlady Goofy ButReal May 29 2014 at 12:41 PM

It is as much the fault of those of us who work hard to stay thin. At 70, I'm a nice 37-27-37...and, darned proud of it. However, there was an 18 month period between 19 and 20 that I ended up weighing over 187 pounds on my small boned 5'4" frame. Everybody in my family made the familiar quips, "Oh, you's not fat, honey, you's just fluffy.....the more of you there is the more there is to love." I got so sick of those comments.....or "you're just a big girl". At Christmas break my Dad smacked my fanny and said, "look at it this way, you can always get a job at the circus as the fat lady"! That was my wake up call. Only my Dad had the COURAGE to look me straight in the face and say....YOU ARE FAT.
Being politically correct now almost demands that one not say anything that could be hurtful to another person. That is a crock. Truth sets one free. Also, mirror a wall in your bathroom where you have to look at yourself every day naked.....that, too, is a wake up call.

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1 reply
justalittlepalmtree lakelanierlady May 29 2014 at 2:25 PM

Congratulations from a 70 year old 110 lb. lady in PA.

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countrysueusa4 May 29 2014 at 9:04 AM

Boo-Hoo...I'm fat, I'm a victim, I have no will power or personal pride in appearance, and can't control what I stuff down my fat a** face!! Boo-Hoo!!

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1 reply
geonosian713 countrysueusa4 May 29 2014 at 11:50 AM


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1 reply
ritteralvarez geonosian713 May 29 2014 at 1:20 PM

its the Truth,, Maybe what she said is a direct reflection of you

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countrysueusa4 May 29 2014 at 9:05 AM

Another fat a** like Kim Kardashian...have you seen the bumper on that pig?

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1 reply
tmccull52 countrysueusa4 May 29 2014 at 9:17 AM

I have! At her wedding to Kanye "I am God" West, instead of a flower girl, she had a girl follow her down the aisle with a bucket of corn, and the little girl slopped Kimmie during the bridal procession.

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fred mosrie May 28 2014 at 10:52 PM

we are what we eat.

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fred May 29 2014 at 6:43 AM

Yet we charge extra for Medicare premiums for tobacco users, but not these fat a$$e$. Go figure.

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1 reply
ritteralvarez fred May 29 2014 at 1:20 PM

give it time it will happen soon enough

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countrysueusa4 May 29 2014 at 9:10 AM

Oink, oink!! Someone feed Kim Kardashian a cheeseburger & fries...her butt is a total eclipse of the sun!!

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nevadan99 May 29 2014 at 9:42 AM

People are pigs. I see obese people daily. They are always eating something. These people have no personal pride. They are just flat out lazy. They will drive around in a parking lot, to get a close parking space. Like a little walk would kill them.

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1 reply
rockymtnhikerCo nevadan99 May 29 2014 at 10:03 AM

yes Nevada,i agree,on the plus side,we have animated characters who might to get us to open our eyes and wake up. Like Eric Cartman,Homer Simpson,and FLUFFY,the Latino comedian,he is so funny,he likes chocolate cake and it shows.Overweight/obese folks,are more likely to have heart complications,knee problems,diabetes,sometime during their lives,just because of negligence to their bodies,these complications are preventable

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jan.nunya May 29 2014 at 12:46 PM

To the uncaring "skinny" folks out there. Be grateful that you have a high metabolism and you ARE thin, instead of berating those who aren't. There ARE people that have no control over how heavy they are, whether you believe it or not. Some over eat of course, but obesity is a problem for some and it's NOT due to lack of will power. People with diseases, like severe arthritis, inflammatory arthritis (and there are many forms), certain heart conditions, breathing disorders to name a few, CAN'T exercise enough to prevent being overweight. You would have them starve themselves, so they can achieve a weight YOU think is normal? And what about the GMO's? You think genetically modified food is good for you? Who knows what it does to the body! Get real. Stop being so childish as to think that everything in this world is as simple as making a choice!!

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1 reply
ritteralvarez jan.nunya May 29 2014 at 1:23 PM

Jan,,,,excuses excuses excuses

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1 reply
jan.nunya ritteralvarez May 29 2014 at 4:44 PM

Bless your poor, uneducated heart! Wonder if you would be SO judgmental if you or someone you care about would become seriously injured in a car accident, or you ticker gives out and you can't walk 2 ft without gasping for air. Would love to see YOU stay thin then. And what will YOU say to those who think you or your family member or friend is just fat and lazy and making excuses!

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