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Obesity is weighing on education, productivity and the economy

Adults who are overweight are less productive and more likely to be absent from work, study shows.
A study by OECD finds that more of its member state economies are suffering as a result of obese adults and children. Image: David Gray, Reuters

The world is officially obese, and that’s bad for health, education and economic growth, according to the OECD.

More than half of people in 34 of its 36 member countries are overweight, and almost half of those are obese, the Paris-based group said in a study published Thursday. Adding to health concerns, it said childhood and morbid obesity have gone from a “rare event to a common occurrence.”

In addition to personal wellbeing and reduced life expectancy, the growing problem is holding back economic growth and putting additional pressure on government budgets, according to the OECD. In total, member countries are spending about $311 billion per year on treating overweight and related conditions.

The analysis concludes those adults who are overweight are less productive and more likely to be absent from work, while children do less well at school.

It estimates that the high percentage of overweight people reduces GDP by an average of 3.3% across the OECD member states. There’s an additional economic burden from increased health spending, with OECD countries spending about 8.4% of their total health budget on treating obesity-related diseases. The figure is highest in the US, at 14%.

The OECD proposals highlight the growing need for action. They include better food labeling, better regulation of ads for unhealthy food to children, and more promotion of physical exercise.

“There is no more excuse for inaction,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. “By investing in prevention, policymakers can halt the rise in obesity for future generations, and benefit economies.”

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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But the Red Colonel ( KFC) is doing great…..i mean you can spot the colonel’s supporters by their drumsticks.

Throughout the greater than 99% of humanity’s existence on earth that preceded the advent of agriculture, starvation was the greatest threat to survival, and being overweight or obese conferred protection against starvation. So, the propensity to accumulate excess body fat conferred a survival advantage and being too slender or too active did the opposite.

But, those characteristics that we now see as most desirable, i.e., easily maintaining an ideal body weight, and being active or athletic when that isn’t required to secure a sufficient daily food supply, during prehistoric times would have conferred a strong selective survival disadvantage.

An example of how this worked is humanity’s last known near extinction event, Toba, a volcanic eruption in Indonesia 75,000 years ago. That eruption is thought to have put so much ash into the atmosphere that the sun’s direct rays were blotted out for seven years, decimating plant life and causing widespread death from starvation. So which humans survived the ensuing 7 year long severe famine? The fattest and least active among us were the most likely to have survived.

We now live in a very different world where famines have almost disappeared, and people around the world now have enough food available to them to become overweight or obese, and so we have the obesity epidemic explained.

That also means that obesity isn’t a matter of eating the wrong foods, of not exercising enough, and it isn’t due to willful slothfulness. The problem is in our genes. Our evolution has predisposed is to obesity when sufficient food sources allow obesity to occur. The obese aren’t doing anything wrong. Our problem, instead, is that we are now living in the wrong world. Rather than living in the world fought with hunger and starvation that we evolved to thrive in, we are instead living in a world of plenty where starvation isn’t the greatest threat to life, starvation no longer being a problem for the vast majority of humanity. That is our blessing and that is also our current problem.

The solution isn’t to eat the right foods or to increase your daily level of activity or exercise, although each may be good things in other ways. The solution is to find easily manageable ways to consume fewer calories than we burn each day. If we succeed in doing that we will lose weight each and every day. If, after reaching our desired weight, we then consume, on average, exactly the same number of calories that we expend each day, we will then remain at our desired body weight.

That is only now easy to do because of advances in our technology. Do this. Buy a Fitbit fitness watch. It will now give you a real-time readout of calories burned since midnight each day. Keep that number, calories burned, higher than your food intake recorded as calories consumed each day by using a small food scale and entering each food and drink you consume into a calorie counting app. Many are available. Consume at least 300 calories each day less than your calories burned, just in case any of your measurements are slightly inaccurate, and you will continue to lose weight until you decide to stop losing weight. This is the first safe, effective, easy, and foolproof way to achieve your ideal body weight and then maintain your ideal body weight for the remainder of your lifetime.

Overweight people are ‘fat’ people? Right?

End of comments.

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