2014-08-21 12:18:17 - What are the implications of rising obesity levels in Asia?
Obesity is a growing threat to quality of life, healthcare systems and economies across Asia. Leon Perera, Chief Executive Officer of Spire Research and Consulting, shared his thoughts on the implications of rising obesity levels in Asia in China Daily – Asia Weekly.
According to a study by Cornell University in 2012, the U.S. spent USD190 billion a year on obesity-related healthcare. An epidemic long thought to affect only the western world has gradually crept onto Asian shores. Traditional food products are now being replaced by processed foods and fast foods in many parts of Asia.
Perera commented that obesity is strongly linked to ailments such as Type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. Obesity has also been linked to a rise
in absenteeism and medical insurance costs. Though the impact of obesity on Asia’s healthcare expenditures is currently lower than it is in the U.S., it is on the rise.
Urbanization has driven the consumption of sugary and fatty foods and the practice of sedentary lifestyles among the expanding middle-class. But Perera commented that the poor are even more likely to consume processed and fast foods, as they are readily available, cheaper and faster to prepare when compared to home-cooked fresh foods.
Childhood obesity has risen sharply as well. If present trends continue, Asia would be home to 70 million obese children by 2025.
The good news is that Asian countries are gearing up to tackle this problem. China and Indonesia are set to undergo healthcare reform to better manage chronic conditions. Malaysia and Singapore, on the other hand, are implementing policies to reduce obesity rates through public awareness. Officials in Thailand have gone a step further and banned the sale of carbonated soft drinks at state schools.
Asia’s battle with obesity will continue to unfold in the coming years.