Report: Obesity growing into a heavy global problem

Pharmaceutical Representative

The problem of obesity has grown dramatically during the 20th century and will escalate into what the World Health Organization has described as a pandemic unless people significantly change their diet and physical exercise habits, according to a new report from Datamonitor.

The problem of obesity has grown dramatically during the 20th century and will escalate into what the World Health Organization has described as a pandemic unless people significantly change their diet and physical exercise habits, according to a new report from Datamonitor.

The New York-based global health care analyst estimated that there will be 26 million obese adults in the United States by the year 2000.

It also observed that treatment and education are urgently necessary to prevent obesity.

Today, approximately 4% to 20% of the American adult population is obese. The prevalence of obesity is greatest in those 30 and older, and women tend to be more susceptible to obesity than men, according to Datamonitor.

Obesity may be the result of genetic predisposition to obesity and/or lifestyle. Contemporary urban lifestyles require little expenditures of energy and the amount of regular exercise has fallen nationwide. Automatic transportation has replaced walking, television viewing is up and many careers are sedentary. High-fat foods, such as fast food, have replaced vegetables and fruits to create less-than-perfect diets.

But obesity isn't just an American problem. Datamonitor's report revealed that 50% of the population in the United Kingdom is overweight, and that more than 2 million Japanese adults will be obese before the year 2005.

Prescription drug treatment, surgery (for the severely and morbidly obese) and education are the methods currently employed to treat obesity.

Prescription medicines either inhibit appetite or alter the nutrient uptake in the gut. Currently, only about 5% of obese patients receive pharmacological treatment, indicating that the market for these products may be poised for significant growth.

Datamonitor predicts, however, that public education about improved exercise and diet will be more effective in fighting obesity than drugs or surgery. As obesity grows into an ever-larger public health problem, governments and health organizations worldwide will be forced to address the issue with public initiatives. PR