Tuesday September 17, 2019

Need For Urgent Action to Tackle Obesity, Climate Change, Says Lancet Study

Led by the University of Auckland (New Zealand), the George Washington University (US), and World Obesity Federation (UK), the report is the result of a three-year project led by 43 experts from a broad range of expertise from 14 countries

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Obesity, Pregnancy
Representational image. Pixabay

The pandemics of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change are interlinked and represent the paramount challenge for humans, the environment and our planet, says a Lancet report, that presses the need for urgent action.

The report of the “Lancet Commission on Obesity”, based on 14 countries including India, demonstrates the need to take a hard line against powerful commercial interests and rethink global economic incentives within the food system in order to tackle these joint pandemics termed as ‘The Global Syndemic’.

“We are already late, sitting at the pinnacle and action is needed at the national level as well as ground level,” Shifalika Goenka, Professor at Public Health Foundation of India.

“We need our own national monitoring framework with specific indicators which help monitor the targets at ground level for drivers of under nutrition, over nutrition and climate change,” added Goenka, who is also the Commissioner on the Lancet Obesity Commission.

Malnutrition in all its forms, including undernutrition and obesity, is by far the biggest cause of ill health and premature death globally. Both undernutrition and obesity are expected to be made significantly worse by climate change.

“Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories,” said Professor Boyd Swinburn of the University of Auckland.

“They are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy that is single-focused on economic growth, and ignores the negative health and equity outcomes.

“Climate change has the same story of profits and power ignoring the environmental damage caused by current food systems, transportation, urban design and land use,” Swinburn said.

Adults
The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors. Pixabay

The report explained that obesity, under nutrition, and climate change also interact with each other.

For example, climate change will increase under nutrition through increased food insecurity from extreme weather events, droughts, and shifts in agriculture.

Likewise, foetal and infant undernutrition increases the risk of adult obesity and the harms caused due to obesity.

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Climate change may also affect prices of basic food commodities, especially fruit and vegetables, potentially increasing consumption of processed foods.

Driving these ‘The Global Syndemic’ are food and agriculture policies, transportation, urban design and land use systems — which in turn are driven by policies and economic incentives that promote overconsumption and inequalities.

The report calls to establish a Framework Convention on Food Systems (FCFS) — similar to global conventions for tobacco control and climate change — to restrict the influence of the food industry in policy making and to mobilise national action for healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems.

“The prevailing business model of large international food and beverage companies that focus on maximising short-term profits leads to overconsumption of nutrient-poor food and beverages in both high-income countries and increasingly in low and middle-income countries,” said Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet.

Led by the University of Auckland (New Zealand), the George Washington University (US), and World Obesity Federation (UK), the report is the result of a three-year project led by 43 experts from a broad range of expertise from 14 countries. (IANS)

Next Story

Heart Disease, Stroke-related Deaths on Rise Due to Obesity: Study

The researchers observed that obesity is the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease mortality — others include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes

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obese children
India with 14.4 million had the second highest number of obese children in 2015. Pixabay

Heart disease and stroke mortality rates have almost stopped declining in many high-income countries and are even increasing in some countries, reveals a new study.

For the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers from the University of Melbourne analysed trends in cardiovascular disease mortality, which consists of mainly heart disease and stroke — in 23 high-income countries since the year 2000.

The study found that cardiovascular disease mortality rates for people aged 35 to 74 years are now barely declining, or are increasing, in 12 of the 23 countries.

Cardiovascular disease mortality rates have increased in the most recent years in US and Canadian females, while in Australia, the UK and New Zealand annual declines in deaths from cardiovascular diseases are now 20 to 50 per cent.

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Two women converse in New York, June 26, 2012. The nation’s obesity epidemic continues to grow, led by an alarming increase among women. Obesity is one of the risk factors of heart failure. VOA

“Research suggests that obesity, or at least poor diet, may have been a significant contributor to the slowdown in the decline of cardiovascular disease deaths,” said Alan Lopez, Professor at the University of Melbourne.

“Each of these countries have very high levels of obesity. In Australia, close to one-third of adults are obese,” Lopez said.

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The researchers observed that obesity is the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease mortality — others include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

“Failure to address these issues could confirm the end of the long-term decline in cardiovascular disease deaths and threaten future gains in life expectancy.” concluded study’s co-author Tim Adair, a researcher at the varsity. (IANS)