Barilla Center For Food And Nutrition Calls For Global Action To Address Obesity
BANNOCKBURN, Ill., July 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Obesity is becoming a global epidemic and is especially worrying in industrialized countries. Nearly 1.5 billion people – 20% of the world’s population – are overweight and, of these, 500 million are obese. Obesity-linked diseases are likely to further increase healthcare expenditure in America and Europe, where governments are already struggling due to the high level of public debt.
The spread of obesity implies costs that are hard to sustain over the long-term: 227 billion dollars a year in the US (between 5 and 10% of total healthcare expenditure) and 236 billion euros in Europe (8% of total healthcare expenditure). According to the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), the obesity crisis is the no. 1 public health problem in the world because it is a major risk factor in high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, asthma and arthritis.
In order to effectively address the global obesity epidemic, it will be critical to enact a long-term plan involving institutions, food production chain entities, and individuals, according to a new report released in Milan today by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), entitled “Obesity: Impacts on Public Health and Society.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 2.5 billion adults worldwide will be overweight and more than 700 million of whom will be obese by 2015. The spread of obesity in children is even more startling: worldwide, one school-age child in ten is obese or overweight, which is equal to 155 million children, 30-45 million of whom are classified as obese.
“Obesity is becoming a fully-fledged global epidemic: in the US, about 68% of the population is overweight – of which 34% of adults are classified as obese,” said Camillo Ricordi, Professor of Surgery and Medicine at the University of Miami and a member of the Barilla Center’s advisory board. “The BCFN’s report has identified some key priority recommendations to start addressing the worldwide obesity problem.”
The report’s recommendations include:
1) Inform and mobilize public opinion. Make public opinion more aware and reactive to obesity’s consequences on health, its impact on society and its economic and environmental costs.
2) Plan a joint government-private sector commitment. Activate integrated and coordinated medium- and long-term plans to combat obesity which involve all the major players concerned.
3) Teach healthy habits in childhood. Reinforce establishments which educate and inform young people.
4) Use the tool of price in a balanced manner. Carefully evaluate the pros and cons of introducing tax disincentives such as taxes on junk food.
5) Encourage commitment from industry and retail. Get the food industry and retail involved in public health initiatives promoted and led by governments.
The costs of obesity are not purely healthcare-related. In fact, in addition to the direct costs (medical costs of treating the disease and its complications), there are also indirect ones, including lower job productivity and higher environmental costs due to increased fuel consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions.
The new BCFN report will be released at a “BCFN Talks” webinar today at 11 a.m. ET, broadcast internationally from Milan, Italy. During the webinar expert presenters will discuss the economic burden of obesity as well as the leading causes. The discussion will feature Gabriele Riccardi, member of the BCFN Advisory Board, medical doctor and nutritionist; Torbjorn Christensen, Advisor for Energy and Environment to the Danish Ministry of Taxation; and Michael Heasman, Associate Professor in Food and Nutrition Sociology and member of the Research Group “Meal Science & Public Health Nutrition,” Aalborg University, Denmark; and Chad D. Meyerhoefer, Associate Professor of Economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania, USA) and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. The webinar will be open to the public via livestream at http://www.barillacfn.com/talk/tk-obesita/?lang=en.
To join the “BCFN Talks” webinar and access a copy of the white paper, please visit: http://www.barillacfn.com/talk/tk-obesita/?lang=en
About the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition: Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) is a think tank founded in 2009 with the goal of analyzing major global issues connected with food and nutrition. The body which oversees the work of the BCFN is the Advisory Board, which comprises: Barbara Buchner, Director of the Climate Policy Initiative in Venice; Claude Fischler, sociologist; Ellen Gustafson, sustainable nutrition expert; John Reilly, economist; Gabriele Riccardi, endocrinologist; Camillo Ricordi, scientist, University of Miami; and Umberto Veronesi, oncologist. Mario Monti, now Italy’s prime minister, was a member of the Advisory Board until November 2011.
For more information, visit: www.barillacfn.com/en
About the Barilla Group
Barilla, originally established in 1877 as a bread and pasta shop in Parma, Italy, ranks as one of today’s top Italian food groups. Barilla leads in the global pasta business, the pasta sauces business in continental Europe, the bakery products business in Italy and the crispbread business in Scandinavia.
For more information, please visit: www.barillagroup.com
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SOURCE Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition