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Healthline Connects

Obesity Called a "Pandemic"

At the opening of the International Congress on Obesity on Sunday, obesity was called a "pandemic", with the chairman, Paul Zimmet, calling it "as big a threat as global warming and bird flu".

He went on to cite the statistic that, "there are now more overweight people in the world than undernourished."

Although it's not exactly news that obesity is an ever-growing epidemic, I've rarely seen people using this kind of language to describe the problem.

It's always been surprising to me that - given the well-documented link between obesity and chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers - there hasn't been more of a public outcry regarding the economic impact that this health issue will have on the world economy.

And if personal behavior can't be legislated, it raises interesting issues around how willing governments will be to crack down on the food industry - either to limit advertising to at-risk populations, or to directly limit access to their products, as we saw earlier this year when Connecticut approved legislation banning the sale of sugary soft drinks in public schools.

Said Dr. Philip James, the British Chairman of the International Obesity Task Force:

"We are not dealing with a scientific or medical problem. We're dealing with an enormous economic problem that, it is already accepted, is going to overwhelm every medical system in the world."

Let's hope people start paying attention.
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