Wednesday March 20, 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

Research Reveals: It’s Your Friend’s Company That Can Turn You Obese

Social contagion in obesity means if more people around you are obese, then that may increase your own chances of becoming obese.

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fries
Unhealthy food promotes obesity. pixabay

Besides genes and an unhealthy diet, your friends can also play a role in making you overweight, says a study, which found that obesity can spread through communities like a ‘social contagion’.

The study showed social circles can influence a person to become obese, suggesting the risk of becoming overweight increases if one moves to an area with a high rate of obesity, the Daily Mail reported.

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On the other hand, the risk of the parent becoming obese or overweight went up five per cent for increase in every one per cent of obesity in the area. Pixabay

“Social contagion in obesity means if more people around you are obese, then that may increase your own chances of becoming obese. Subconsciously, you are affected by what people around you are doing,” said Ashlesha Datar at the University of Southern California.

“If you move to a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, you join that. There is this social influence,” Datar said.

For the study, the team included 1,314 parents and 1,111 children of US Army personnel at 38 bases.

The chances of becoming overweight or obese for a teenager increased four-six per cent for rise in every one per cent in the obesity.

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If you move to a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, you join that. There is this social influence,” Datar said. Pixabay

On the other hand, the risk of the parent becoming obese or overweight went up five per cent for increase in every one per cent of obesity in the area.

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The longer the families lived there, the more likely they put on weight, the report said.

Obesity can be caused by many variables, and previous research has shown living in certain communities carries a higher risk of obesity than living in other communities. (IANS)