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Home | Obesity | Epidemic Obesity

Obesity is one of the principal public health problems in developed countries. It has been considered as an “epidemic illness” in the United States and Canada, where it represents the second most important cause of death and it is believed that over the next few years, the countries in the European Community will reach similar levels.

For the first time in the history of our planet, there are just as many obese people as undernourished people living: every day 1,100 million human beings go hungry, while there are 1,100 million obese people, a number which is on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) has considered obesity to be the “epidemic of the XXI century” and the principal chronic health problem of today. In some developed countries, more than 50% people suffer from overweight.

In the Unites States, more than 75% of the adult population suffers from overweight, with 36.5% of men and 41.8% of women suffering from obesity, and more than six million of them suffer from morbid obesity. In Germany, the predominance of overweight in the adult population affects 65.1% of men and 55.1% of women, and nearly nine million Germans suffer from some kind of obesity requiring treatment. In Peru, about 60% of the adult population is estimated to have some degree of overweight, while 31.1% of women and 13.2% of men over 15 years of age suffer from obesity.

Depending on the country, obesity and its collateral illnesses (co-morbidities) represent from 5% to 10% of the total sanitary expenses, and the continual increase of the predominance of obesity will unavoidably result in an increase of such expenses. The total costs of obesity in the United States are thought to be in the region of 99,200 million dollars per year (5.7% of the annual sanitary expense), while in Germany they exceed 10,000 million euros per year (5.4% of the annual sanitary expense). In Spain, the expense is estimated to be around 341,000 million pesetas per annum (6.9% of the total sanitary expense). A sanitary expense of around 4% would apply to France, The Netherlands and Finland.

The most serious kind of obesity, called morbid obesity, implies a risk of death twice as high in women and three times as high in men. The earlier the appearance of obesity, the higher the risk of death. In the United States, about 300,000 deceases each year are attributed to obesity and its secondary illnesses. Thus, obesity has become the second cause of death, after tobacco consumption.

Since up until now, all medicine-based treatments and other conservative approaches for treating morbid obesity have shown only a marginal effect, limited in time, surgical treatment has gained ground in the last decades, with good results.


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