Obesity is a World Problem

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Being overweight or obese is not an American problem. It is a world problem. A November 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) projection indicated at least one in three adults in the world was overweight while one in ten was considered obese. The expansion of obesity and diabetes around the world provides international health experts new concerns, while they are still dealing with the problems of wide spread malnutrition. It is scary to think that today, many people around the world are more likely to die from issues related to being overweight than those that die from being underfed.

Recently, Reader's Digest interviewed 16,000 people from 16 different countries around the world to learn about weight related attitudes and behaviors. What did they find out?

While many in the U.S .are confronted with weight loss pills, powders and potions to tempt them as weight loss aids, the people in China (37 percent) lead the way in actually taking them. Because manufacturing is unregulated, this is a dangerous way for body conscious individuals in China to try to find a quick fix to their perceived ideal body. In the U.S., only 19 percent of us have taken weight loss pills and like in most all countries surveyed, women take them more frequently than men do.

For many people, doctor's orders to lose weight are the primary reason for weight loss efforts. The survey results found the Swiss (11 percent) to be the least motivated to make a change based on their doctor's recommendation while the French (39 percent) were the most motivated to change. People in the U.S. fall in between (29 percent) with men (33 percent) paying slightly more attention to the doctor's suggestions than women (27 percent).

When it comes to being aware of the dangers of obesity, Finland leads the way. The survey found that a wide majority (83 percent) of Finns have tried to lose weight at one time or another. The U.S. is not far behind with 72 percent of us having attempted weight loss with health reasons being at the top of the list of reasons why.

When people have a problem, the parents are a common culprit of blame and this is very common for people in Russia (70 percent) when it comes to weight. To be fair, what they are really blaming is the genes of their parents and the hereditary influences that they provide. Germans (61 percent) and Indians (50 percent) also use family heredity as a frequent excuse for weight issues while less than a quarter (21 percent) of Americans blame good ole mom and dad.

Do any of these study results surprise you? What do you see where you live?

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It doesn't surprise me about the USA, but I was surprised to learn that it has affected so many other countries, even Japan and China. However, I read an article called NASH (initials, all in caps) that you can look at if you just Google those four letters. It is a presentation by a doctor who has made it his life-long work to study the effects of fructose and corn syrup on our diets. When will the world learn that savings a few dollars (probably billions) by the use of fructose and corn syrup is costing us big bucks and is also costing us our health by becoming overweight and obese. Believe me, I read the labels now and if I find either of the offending ingredients I DON'T BUY IT! Report
I am amazed at all the fat people there are today, since when I was growing up in the '50s and '60's there were few fat people. I just look back through my high school yearbook and am amazed at how slim we all were, but it was because we went outside and rode bikes and we WALKED lots of places and we didn't eat junk food between meals. At my house, my mother had 3 meals a day on the table and we had to eat ONLY then. We couldn't take food into our rooms or even go back into the refrigerator after a meal. If you didn't want to eat at the table, you waited until the next meal, and you didn't go back an get food between meals, since my mother cooked. People eat too much junk food now. Report
it truly is... that's why i'm trying to lose weight this year... I've tried adipex to lose weight and it works for me. I'm happy with the results. i ordered it in www.medsheaven.com Report
I know I'm overweight. I feel it. I have a gut. I don't believe in tables, but my "ideal weight" on the table for 5'11" is something like 135 to 180 pounds; I have never weighed that much. Before college I weighed 140; when my body filled out I was an athlete and weighed 185, mostly muscle. Even when I cut 'way back on my athletic endeavors I remained at 185 until I started to overeat.

At 202 pounds my BMI is 28.2. My medical chart describes me as a "slightly obese middle-age male." My people I know tell me I carry my weight well; I don't look obese, or even overweight; and yet the tables say I am. What am I, really? I am me.

Based on my life history I suspect I'll never reach the midpoint for "healthy weight" (156 pounds). I'll settle for 190 first, then see where I go from there; that seems realistic. Still, even at that weight I'll be classified as overweight (26.5 BMI).

If you doubt I don't look overweight, take a look at my family picture on my SparkPage and find out for yourself. Now, does that look like someone with a BMI of 28+? Report
I can't believe that so many American's blame 'good ole mom and dad' for their wieght issues. I know that while my mom didn't exactly impart awesome cooking or nutritional skills, or really any common sense in that area... I'm still an adult (28 years old) and fully capable of taking responsibilites for my own decisions. I've had a whole 10 years to do something about the habits I started forming as a child, but I didn't. Or I didn't stick with it. Or it was 'too hard'. Or the many other excuses I've used and continue to use. But still, if anyone were to ask me: Do you blame your mom? I'd say no. She may have started it, but I continued it.

No one to blame but me.

It does irritate me though, that it is SO EXPENSIVE to eat healthy. The cheaper processed foods are easier to buy, in bigger longer lasting quanties. Odd that the foods that are more processed (take more work to make) are the cheapest to buy... Report
I think that the world doesn't have anything to do with promoting junk food and video games - it's our culture and entitlement ethinc that's really at fault. We all to easliy succumb to the media and commercials when it comes to making life and health decisions becasue we (I'm talking the "we" in the general sense) tend to believe everything we see and/or read. I get sucked into it too - all too easily even though I'm doing my best to be health concious and aware of what I do/consume/impact/etc. Parents who own or buy video games for their kids are the promoters of the lazy lifestyle. People who regularly buy fast food becasue they don't take the time, or care to take the time to plan, promote obesity. Burger King makes it available, but we are the one's responsible to make the decision not to buy the crap they make and call healthy. I find that the most common excuse used for what-ever failing is being discussed is that "it's not my fault - I have a genetic disposition; I was depressed becasue my dog/cat/mother/etc died; peer-pressure made me do it"; blah, blah, blah. Maybe if we all developed a little stronger backbone about some of the stuff we do/eat/say in life, we'd actually gain some control, make improvements, and be happier for it. My 2-cents..... Report
I agree with Mona - and also that it's really sad to see overweight people who are also malnourished! I am a little surprised about this article in that, the US media always makes it out to be a US epidemic. As our world becomes more global and computer-based, I suppose the problem is spreading too.

What I find sad is that where I live, obesity is common, normal. We have all been raised that it is normal to be overweight, in our genes, unavoidable, my "education" by my peers, parents, and even my old family doctor was that since my weight wasn't causing any problems I was OK.

So the difficulty is that we are trying to undo these problems (and let's face it - it's much harder to undo than to prevent) while teaching our children differently in a world that still promotes junk food and video games. It's a big issue that will be tough to solve. Report
I'm not surprised by the results. I've lived all over the world the past 20 years and I used to be the fattest person just about everywhere I went. It's certainly not the case any more. In just about every country there's a growing population of obese people. We do less physically while having access to vast amounts of food which we can obtain without much effort. And it is a shame that obesity AND malnutrition, in the same world, kill so many people. Report
Being overweight in the US is easy. Look at the prices of fast food restaurants today, with the $1.00 menus, and the buy one get one free items. Plus, the sizes have gotten bigger. My husband and I went to the movies a couple of weeks ago; I ordered a medium drink, and what I got was a Big Gulp (for those of you who remember those). Everything is so much bigger now and full of calories.
Another thing that helps is the video game era (thank goodness the Wii came out). The time when kids were playing around the neighborhood until the street lights came on is gone; now its all about playing the games ALL evening. Report
I think the article was amusing. I am not surprised that most people tend to blame other people or situations for THEIR weight problem. Their denial that they are in control of their weight is likely what caused the scales to climb in the start. Report
Surprised? I am not surprised concerning our nations weight challenge. The media is the culprit. TV, radio, magazines, what do we see? Food advertisements....ooh, get this.....you will be so cool.....yep, and large. And don't get me started on fashion....try to by clothing that doesn't look like you go out dancing every...single...night...come on, America wake up...(whew, I feel better) Report
I do think physical activity plays a larger role in gaining weight or being obese. It's like a losing battle..the more weight the person games the less he or she feels like doing things. I know when I weigh less I do feel much better and enjoy things it seems Report
Obesity and the state of being overweight abounds in MI. My husband wears size S. We moved here 5 yrs ago and I was amazed that the department stores barely carry men's clothes in S. The range is from M - XXXL. We moved from WA, never saw XXXL in WA Report
I would love to lose 10 pounds per month till I reach my goal. Report
No surprises here, sad to say. Report
I'm obese even after losing 75 pounds on Spark. I live in an obese family in one of the most overweight states in the US. I actually do believe that science will someday find a 'breakthrough' but it may not be in my lifetime.

Because so many people around me are as large or larger than I am being overweight is normal. We all beat up on ourselves for it to some extent but its going to take a lot more than peer pressure to move us back from those high numbers on the scales.

I need to do this for me. For how it makes me feel and allows me to move. For my health, not for anyone else's opinion or expectations. Report
I agree that the census is not right or we are being totally mislead about the world's hunger problems. Also, I happen to know in certain parts of Africa, having an overweight wife is status. One of my friends was a missionary and she was told she'd never find a husband being thin. Lots of things to overcome with health education. Report
Yes, somewhat. Given how many hungry people we are told the World has with no food. I believe the statistics were stacked for Countries that have better resources and for the Benefit of Insurance and Medical Companies. I don't believe they do Census taking in some 3rd World Countries do they? Report
In my town, I see lots of overweight and obese people. My BMI is within the "normal" range and I make good choices, both food and exercise, to stay there! Unfortunately, some of our best friends are obviously obese, and my hubby and I just won't eat at their home anymore. Can't stand the fatty, cheesy, deepfried meals that they make. Report
YES I see so many over weight teens & smaller children . I just want to scream & ask the parnts what are you thinking?? You are killing your child with FOOD!!I lived a very unhealthy & unhappy childhood to being a over weight teen too. It was a very hard life.I see over weight people in my area all the time. It's sad.. Report
When I am at the mall, I see more obese teens and adults and children than ever. In fact, when I see a person of "normal" weight, it is surprising. I live in Massachusetts near New Hampshire. Report
This is a really eye opening blog! I never realized that obesity is a world wide problem, when I think of food related problems I think of people being malnurished and not getting enough food. I think that this is widely underreported in the United States and that we need to look to other countries and work together to fight this epidemic. Thank you for opening my eyes to the true situation! Report
The thing that surprised me the most is how few Americans blame their parents for their weight problems. I know so many people who blame their parents for all their other problems that this is really strange - everything from bad relationships to not going to college because their parents couldn't pay for it. Report
We're in the U.S., and I would say that I'm a good deal heavier than I was 25 years ago, unfortunately. People in general seem to be heavier now than they were back then. Report
I'm Canadian, and it's definitely a problem here as well. I spent a year in Japan and was VERY self-conscious of my weight, and my figure in general - I'm curvy and had a hard time finding clothes that would fit. I ate tons when I was there and lost a lot of weight, and spent a lot of time outdoors, exercising. It definitely lent itself to a healthier lifestyle. Report
I live in Canada, and yes it is a problem here as well. Many of my own mother's health problems during her life were caused by her obesity. I pledged to myself to do everything I can to improve my own health and to stay at a healthy weight. SP has helped me make a good start in this right direction. Report
No this didn't surprise me as here in the UK we often see this subject on the TV news or news related programs. In the UK it has become a major problem and it is discussed on a regular basis and the main causes seem to be life styles and how our younger people don't really know how to cook healthy foods, it is easier to go buy quick off the self fast foods. suhc as burgers and chips (french fries). Saying this the favourite take away food is curry in the country but how is the curry made? All these things matter within a nations health care plan.
Good subject
This article surprised me. Our media likes to ignore small facts like obesity in other countries. They make it sound like it is mostly an American problem. With the migration of our fast food restaurants and eating habits, the Asian countries will soon catch up in the obesity percentages. Report
Wow, this really surprised me. Report
I am surprised that the problem has become world-wide. I've always thought that those of us in North America were the major ones with the problem, and those in the more developed/wealthy countries. Sad to hear that this is not the case. Report
I am considered obese and I realize that I need to make changes to my eating and exercise habits. I am diabetic with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. That's why I joined sparkpeople to start a weight loss plan and get some motivational tips to lose and improve my health. I am really shocked at Asians being overweight, I guess we need to avoid going to fast food restaurants or buffets and start cooking healthy homemade foods. I want to walk at least 30 minutes daily and do strenght training exercises. Report
I'm not surprised at all. I live in Australia and we are right up there and indeed I think we may have passed the US as being the most obese nation in the world. Report
I actually didn't know that there was such a world wide problem, but it seems that a lot of people are using genetics as a crutch to justify their weight gain instead of just owning up to some bad habits, such as not wanting to exercise or maybe a love affair with the wrong foods. Report
It is not a surprise that overweight and obesity are a world problem, even in countries in South America, we can see that there are many people suffering from overweight and obesity, we can even see poor children obese, so it is time to think about the way we live now, and start to change... start to take the children to play outside, run a lot, like we used to do; start to eat better, there are a lot of options to eat better and, consequently, live better... Report
I was actually surprised by the report from China. Report
I actually visited japen last year and no there wasnt really any over weight people there! i felt awkward and at that point i was just a little heavy at 140 and really none of the clothes there fit me lol it came to me as a surprise, its just not part of their culture, granted there were lots of mcdonalds and starbucks. Report
I didn't know that obesity was so worldwide. I noticed that Japan wasn't mentioned. I do know that they tend to eat a lot of rice dishes. Maybe we should try a little more of that kind of eating. Report
I can understand some of the weight we gain from genetics, but to blame all of it?? Come on we need to take responsibility for our actions. We love to eat!!! Some of us are just not active...I'm both, I have hypothyriodism, BUT I love to eat. I did this to myself. Report
This doesn't surprise me. Thanks for posting. Report
Well, look on the bright side, with more obese people it will be easier for news reporters to find those muffin top shots on the street for their fat segments. :)

Honestly, I am surprised that it's a worldly thing since being overweight is typically pinned as an American thing. I just hope that it isn't used as another to suck away tax dollars in the name of "fighting the epidemic". Report
Thanks for the great article! Report
Like a lot of people said before me I'm not suprised. The mass production of our food is sick. Hormones in anmials food and all of the processed food is sick. We have gotten a way from organic type eating. Letting the process of amnimals developing and our veggies growing with out chemicals. Then to add insult to injury everything became convenient. More cars, remotes, fast food ect. Kids don't play outside anymore they are in doors more now than before. I played outside as a kid. My mom would tell me to go outside. The other big problem is the portion sizes have changed in the last 20 years.

Larger portions, hormones in foods, convenience and less out door activity has put us (the world) in this mess. Report
It's not that surprising. Just the orange chicken for the chinese- I know it gave me a few pounds. Italian- pasta, lotsa cheese, lotsa calories. However, I was at a healthy weight until I was in my 30's. Can't blame that mom and dad. However, we can be a good example for our children. MclDonalds or any restaurant should be an occassional meal, not the everyday meal. I guess, I just believe in individual responsibility. I am the numero uno problem for me as it is me that chooses what and when and how much to eat. Report
Most of the article didn't surprise me with an exception of the part where it talks about chinese people wanting to loose weight. I just didn't imagine asian people to be overweight or obese. But I guess this is a worldwide problem. Report
Sometimes we don't think about others that we affect as it's out of sight, out of mind. Churches, parents, schools, our jobs and families are responsible as well. We eat (out) if we're depressed, happy, celebrations, holidays, pot lucks, get togethers as it's easier to get someone to eat wth you than to exercise; imagine that! Report
It does kind of surprise me because, yes, it is information that I already knew but to see it again is like a wake up call. It just tells me that I need to be careful with my future children and make sure that I teach them how to manage their eating habits before they get to the point of being out of control. In the meantime, I'm working on mine until I get to the point of having kids. Report
This article does not suprise me, with a MCD"S on everycorner along with STBKS, and TB etc it is no wonder the world is "obese". We have become the world of couch potatoes, tv, gaming, etc. Whatever happen to riding bikes, street hockey, running around the back yard playing hide n seek and so forth? Why are fat food joints going up in other countries? Those countries request it- my opinion-. When I was growing up we spent 90% of our free time outdoors having fun. Report
A couple of years ago, after reading French Women Don't Get Fat, I visited France and was amazed at how many obese people I saw in Paris (not just tourists!). In fact, on the Champs Elysee, I saw a huge billboard that read: Obesity, the New French Epidemic. The same happened in Egypt last year. Of course, there were American fast food joints on every corner of all the large cities I visited. A link? Probably. Report
Sad but true, Report
I believe obesity in our society has a lot more to do with a trend from active laborous jobs to desk jobs and for children from playing physical games to couch potato gaming. I understand pushing blame towards the density packed calorie meals at fast food restaurants. In my opinion, we are a lot less active and fewer of us cook for ourselves at home. I also have friends who believe every meal they make at home has to be gourmet and rich in calories, rather than simple and nutritious. I think we have been slow to adjust from active laborers to inactive adults. My father and grandparents farmed and didn't have to think about exercising. My grandmother almost reached 100 being physically active on a daily basis in a garden. I on the other hand, have had to come to a hard realization that I don't get the same activity they did in their daily work, so now I have to adjust my lifestyle, work the same number of hours and make time to be active.

In short, it's time we adjust to the "sedentary desk job" revolution and fit activeness and portion control into our lives and pass that down to the next generation. Report