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Wide world

Obesity is no longer a North American issue

If you have any money stuffed under your mattress you’re afraid to invest in the high tech economy, you might want to think about investing in commodities – i.e. sugar and cotton. The world is gaining weight on high calorie, high fat diets, and hundreds of millions of people are going to need bigger pants.

According the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), the proactive wing of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, there are over 300 million obese people on this planet, and that number is expected to continue to climb through the first part of the 21 st century. Obesity rates have more than doubled in some countries since obesity was first recognized as a disease a half century ago. And, according the World Health Organization, there are now more obese people (8.2 per cent) on the planet than underweight people (5.8 per cent).

In 1999, the University of Laval in Quebec compiled regional statistics on obesity from around the world, compiling data on what the IOTF is calling the "Millennium Disease," and a "Global Epidemic."

The prevalence of obesity has increased between 10 and 50 per cent in European countries in the last 10 years alone. The most dramatic increase has been in the United Kingdom, where obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980. As a whole, the reported prevalence of obesity in Europe is 15 and 22 per cent for men and women respectively.

In Western Samoa, an estimated 77 per cent of all males are obese.

In the Republic of South Africa, approximately 44 per cent of all black women have caught the disease.

Between 1989 and 1992 – pre and post Berlin Wall – East German obesity rates for men and women between 25 and 74 have nearly doubled – from 13 and 21 per cent for men and women respectively, to 21 and 27 per cent.

In the U.S., 19.9 per cent of men and 24.9 per cent of women are obese.

In Canada the average is 13.5 per cent for men and women, but the number of overweight children has increased from 15 per cent in 1981 to 35.4 per cent in 1996. The prevalence of obese children has tripled over the same period, from 5 per cent in 1981 to 16.6 per cent for boys in 1996, and 5 per cent to 14.6 for girls in the same period – if the trend continues, we will have a higher per capita rate for obesity than the U.S. in the next 10 years.

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