Across the world, experts on cardiovascular health and obesity are regularly discussing the urgency regarding the global health epidemic of obesity, considered to be the ‘HIV of our age. The metaphor is eerily accurate; obesity routinely kills millions of people across the world, and costs health institutions billions of dollars—despite its preventability. A 2007 Government Foresight Report estimated that approximately half of the UK population would be obese by 2050, but researchers believe that it might occur even sooner. A report published today by Aetna International, one of the world’s leading health insurance providers, reaffirms the urgency required to limit the global fallout from rising obesity levels.

The report, titled “Globesity: Tackling the world’s obesity pandemic,” calls upon major institutions, governments, food producers, retailers, and insurance companies to collectively combine efforts in order to cooperatively tackle the growing global obesity crisis. Statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980: currently, 13% of adults are classified as obese; nearly 40 meet the criteria for being overweight.

Moreover, a host of studies have found strong correlations between at least 15 cancers and obesity, in addition to an extensive list of severe health problems, including type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, arthritis, coronary heart disease, and stroke.

The necessity of education improvement, in order to promote healthy living, is critically pressing—particularly as the obesity pandemic begins to affect increasing numbers of children. Implementation of public education programs would begin to raise awareness, specifically concerning the strong link between obesity and heart disease. The sole way to solve the obesity crisis is through a holistic approach, one that combines health incentives, taxes, and education programs. Studies have confirmed that one of the most effective ways in which to reduce obesity is to clearly communicate information about its direct correlation with health and disease.

Like HIV, obesity has the makings of a ‘public health catastrophe’—one that must be averted at all costs.

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