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World

OECD says governments losing battle of the bulge

Health experts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have expressed alarm at new figures that show obesity in the 33-nation body is on the rise.

Overweight lady wearing a bikini poolside

Waistlines are expanding in many developed countries, the OECD says

Obesity levels have reached endemic proportions in many industrialized nations, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released Thursday.

The body said that extreme overweight was fast becoming the prevalent public health problem in many of its 33 member states.

"If recent trends continue, projections suggest that more than 2 out of 3 people will be overweight or obese in at least some OECD countries within the next 10 years," the OECD said in the study "Obesity and the Economics of Prevention".

The report said that, in Germany, around 60 percent of men and 45 percent of women carried too much weight. It added that one in six Germans fell into the category of morbid obesity.

In Europe, Germany was bested only by the United Kingdom, Spain and Greece in terms of weight problems. Worldwide frontrunners in the OECD obesity report were the United States and Mexico, where nearly 75 percent of women and around 66 percent of men were overweight.

Obese children enjoy a meal at a McDonald's restaurant

Bad eating habits are a major reason behind the obesity problem

The report's authors noted that increasing weight among young people in OECD countries was another alarming development, adding that too much weight was hanging from the hips of every third child in the bloc.

They said that weight problems could be simply combated through better consultation with family doctors and an improved understanding of nutrition.

A person is regarded as obese when their body mass index (BMI) - a measure of body fat based on height and weight - is above 30. A person of normal weight should have a BMI of between 18.5 and 25.

The OECD paper said the reasons for the obesity surge included a reduction in the price of calories, altered living and working conditions that have reduced the amount of daily physical activity, increased stress levels and longer working hours.

Author: Darren Mara (dpa/AP)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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