Obesity worsened during economic downturn: Poor buying more cheap junk food

In England, Italy, Korea and the United States obesity levels remained about the same.
By Alex Cukan   |   May 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM
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PARIS, May 27 (UPI) -- Since the economic downturn of the past five years, obesity increased in many developed countries and remained stable in a few.

A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that over the past five years obesity increased by 2 to 3 percent in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Spain and Switzerland. In England, Italy, Korea and the United States obesity levels remained about the same.

On average, 1 in 5 children is overweight in OECD countries, but obesity rates were 1 in 3 in countries such as Greece, Italy, Slovenia and the United States.

As a result of the recession families had less money to spend on food, and many poor households switched to junk food with high fat and high calories. OECD obesity is an inequality issue as well as a health issue, the report said.

Some countries adopted policies to address obesity. Mexico created a comprehensive government strategy to address obesity last year that included awareness-raising, healthcare, regulatory and fiscal measures, the report said.

"The economic crisis may have contributed to a further growth in obesity, but most governments need to do more to stop this rising tide" Michele Cecchini, an OECD health expert, said in a statement.

Cecchini is scheduled to present the data in a keynote address at the European Congress on Obesity, in Sofia, Bulgaria, Tuesday.

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