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The Global Obesity Crisis


A silhouette of 8 people with one of them being overweight
1 in 8 Adults is Obese

By 2035, more than half of the world’s population will be obese. We chose to ignore this elephant in the room for far too long. The global obesity rate has doubled in women, tripled in men, and quadrupled in children between 1990 and 2022, with over a billion people living with obesity. Obesity is a chronic disease that impacts various body systems and can lead to other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, strokes, and cancer. It also increases the risk of mental health issues such as depression and Alzheimer's. Contrary to common belief, obese people are the most malnourished.

Despite the lack of a definitive cure for obesity, weight loss drugs are being heralded as a potential solution, with an expected 70 million users and a market worth $80 billion by 2030. So, will these be the new norm? 

The short and definitive answer is no. This is because obesity is a complex problem with many layers that can’t be cured with a single pill. Weight loss drugs are not a long-term solution, as many users regain weight and experience adverse side effects such as stomach paralysis, kidney problems, increased heart rate, etc, the moment they stop using the drugs. 

Weight loss drugs contribute to inequality, as they primarily affect the poor and are unaffordable for many, leading some to resort to unhealthy alternatives. Obesity rates have declined in some rich nations but are rapidly increasing in low and middle-income countries, amplifying the vulnerability of the poor. The use of unhealthy alternatives, such as laxatives, as budget weight loss drugs, highlights the desperate measures taken to address obesity. Weight loss drugs may show short-term effectiveness but do not provide a definitive cure for obesity, emphasizing the importance of preventive policies and measures.

The rise in obesity rates is not only a health crisis but also an economic one. The cost of treating obesity-related diseases is estimated to be around $2 trillion annually, which is around 2.8% of the global GDP. This cost is unsustainable and puts a strain on healthcare systems worldwide.

To address the global obesity crisis, a multifaceted approach is needed. This includes implementing policies that promote healthy eating and physical activity and providing access to affordable and nutritious food. Education and awareness campaigns are also crucial to changing perceptions and behaviors around food and exercise.

Additionally, there is a need for more research into the underlying causes of obesity and the development of more effective treatments. This includes exploring the role of genetics, the microbiome, and environmental factors in obesity.

Addressing the global obesity crisis requires a concerted effort from governments, healthcare providers, the food industry, and individuals. By working together, we can tackle this growing epidemic and improve the health and well-being of people worldwide.

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