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Britain may be the ‘Fat man of Europe’, but…

By Marcus Santer

So there I was yesterday, taking a break from work, reading:

The State of Food and Agriculture (2013)

Published by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Like I’ve said before: “I read this stuff so you don’t have to.”

Now I was reading the 2013 edition and not the 2014, because it has a fascinating table in the back which compares amongst other things the: Prevalence of obesity among adults (%) – World wide. Country by country, region by region.

Of course the first problem with this data is it’s age. It’s dated as 2008, so I went looking for more recent figures and long story short, I couldn’t find any that covered the world.

The USA yes, but the world no.

And I wanted to look at the figures for the world because it helps to give a bigger picture. Wouldn’t you agree?

Yes you would.

So 2008 is going to have to do (if you know of any more up to date statistics, please let me know).

And what I found was very interesting.

If you look at the data for Europe, than yes it’s accurate to say:

“Britain: The fat man of Europe” like this interesting article on obesity did.

Here’s the stats:

Country: Prevalence of obesity % (Adults over 20 are considered obese if the Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than or equal to 30)

Now let’s look at the stats for the USA:

31.8%

Pretty bad huh?

But look at the results for Nauru, a small island N.E. of Australia:

71.1%

Hmmm.

What’s going on? And what does this data tell us?

Because there is no doubt that obesity is rising. Between 1980 and 2008 prevalence of obesity worldwide has nearly doubled. [1] And in Nauru and The Cook Islands rates are over 4 times higher than the mean global BMI. [2]

Common wisdom is that obesity is usually blamed on lack of exercise and too much food.

But is it really as simple as that?

Join me tomorrow and we’ll take a look.

Bye for now

Marcus

References:
[1] – http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/obesity_text/en/
[2] – http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9336735&fileId=S136898001400175X