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Cases of obesity in developing countries 'more than triples' over 28 years

A new report from the Overseas Development Institute details how one in three adults worldwide are now obese.

Image: doctor examination via Shutterstock

ALMOST 1.5 BILLION adults are now obese, with the number rising significantly in developing countries, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute.

‘Future Diets’, published by the UK research organisation, says that due to a “creeping homogenisation in diets” around the world, the number of people obese in the developing world has more than tripled since 1980, rising to 904 million in 2008.

This is compared to this figure rising in developed countries 1.7 times over the same period.

As income increases, so does the consumption of fruit, vegetables, but also oils, fats, and sugar, the report notes. People move away from a traditional subsistence diet of ‘grains and starchy staples’.

However, it dismisses the notion that diets are converging on a worldwide norm, noting that substantial differences persist between countries, cultures, and individuals, and that this leaves room for public policy to create a strong influence on people’s diets.

This is not currently the case, the ODI suggests, saying that “politicians are fearful of meddling with diets, and alienating farming and food-industry interests”.

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The work of the South Korean government is praised, which began promoting and educating the public on the country’s low-fat high-vegetable traditional diet, leading to increased consumption of this diet despite rising incomes.

The study also found that while ‘future diets’ drive up the price of meat due to increased consumption, it had little effect on the price of grain.

Read: Concerns that Ireland is ‘not far behind the US’ for obesity >

Minister: The number of obese three-year-olds in Ireland is frightening >

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Nicky Ryan

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