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491. Obesity and the Food System

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March 4 was World Obesity Day.

Overweight and obesity are conditions that pose a health risk due to the accumulation of excess fat. A body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 is considered overweight, while a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. As of 2017, more than 4 million people are overweight or obese each year. It is estimated that more people die as a result.

From 1975 to 2016, the percentage of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 5-19 years increased more than 4-fold from 4% to 18% worldwide. Obesity is one aspect of the double burden of malnutrition, with obese populations outnumbering underweight populations in all regions except Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Once a problem found only in high-income countries, in recent years it has been increasing in low- and middle-income countries, especially in urban areas. Most overweight and obese children are concentrated in developing countries, where the rate of increase is more than 30% higher than in developed countries.

The food system that causes overweight and obesity lacks agricultural diversity, is the number one cause of biodiversity loss, and contributes to climate change through emissions that account for one-third of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. In light of the sustainable capacity of the Earth, and in order to support a world population that is expected to approach 10 billion by 2050, there is a need to fundamentally review the state of the food system, including consumption, distribution, production, and the diets that connect these three areas. 


Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)