Britain becomes Europe’s most obese country, as US maintains “leader” status worldwide

Britain’s obesity rates have almost doubled in only 20 years, with rates increasing faster than any other developed nation. Over 60 percent of the country is now obese or overweight.

Image credits: OECD.

The world is dealing with an obesity crisis that shows no sign of stopping down. Obesity is touching people of all ages, ethnicities, and either gender. A new report from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that within OECD countries, 54% of people are fatter than they should be, with 19.4% being obese.

The most overweight country is Mexico, where over 72% of people are overweight and 33.3% are obese. The US has fewer overweight people, at “only” 70.1%, but has the most obese people in the world: 38.2%.

The case of UK is particularly concerning as the rates grow at an alarming rate. However, the rates of Korea and Norway have also doubled since 1990, though total figures aren’t as high as in Britain. However, Britan’s overall health indicators remain strong. Life expectancy is 81 years, largely due to access to low-cost, quality healthcare, thanks to the country’s National Health Service (NHS). The UK per capita health expenditure is more than two times lower than that of the US.

The OECD reports that access to care is generally good, though the NHS is under great financial stress in recent years.

“The average access to care is generally good. Out of pocket payments are low, and few people report skipping consultations due to the cost of care — 4.2 percent compared to an average of 10.5 percent among 17 OECD countries with comparable data,” the report says.

The health problems associated with obesity are severe and far-reaching, the report highlights. Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases and conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, and depression, significantly reducing life expectancy.

While most countries in the developed world have various campaigns against obesity, their efficiency has proven to be relatively low. It’s not that they don’t have an impact, but they don’t do enough to counteract rising obesity rates, and much more could be done, the report writes. For instance, England’s decision to ban ‘super-size’ chocolate bars from hospital outlets is laudable but will do little to curb the overall problem. The impending government sugar tax is expected to have a much more significant impact, though it remains to be seen exactly how effective the tax will be in tackling overall obesity rates.

Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food intake and lack of physical activity, through genetic predispositions can also play a role. The good news is that obesity is completely preventable and treatable, through a series of fairly simple lifestyle changes. Improvements in overall diet and exercising are the main treatments. Reducing the consumption of foods with high-calorie intake such as sugars and increasing the intake of dietary fiber is the best way to start. Sometimes, medical treatments are also used, but no matter what, nothing can ever substitute healthy eating and exercising.

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