Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, experts in health, fitness and nutrition claimed the increasingly dangerous obesity crisis needs to be fought with the same forcefulness policy-makers once put into stopping smoking.
According to Linda Fried, dean of the School of Public Health at Columbia University, the current figure of 1.4 billion overweight adults in the world is set to soar in the coming years.
A deadly combination of cheap, accessible junk food and sedentary lifestyles means more than a few of us are health time-bombs waiting to go off.
“If this were an infectious disease we might call it a pandemic. It’s not regional, it’s global, it’s increasing rapidly, it’s continuing to escalate — those are the basic definitions of a pandemic,” said Fried.
How can we stop this crisis from spiralling out of control?
The global elite agreed that the first step towards a slimmer, healthier future should be to stop blaming the individuals and start blaming the society we’ve created.
The lucrative junk food industry continues to pump enticing messages into the advertising stratosphere, encouraging people to buy into certain brands and ultimately become addicted to fatty, sugary foods. This needs to stop. Manufacturers need to take more responsibility for the levels of salt, fat and sugar they put in their foods and be more honest about their ingredients.
Experts suggest widespread calorie labelling, limits on portion sizes and higher ‘fat’ taxes on unhealthy food as solutions for changing the world’s eating habits.
Encouraging people to move around more is also an important step. Children should be involved in sports from a young age and encouraged to play outside. Urban spaces should be redeveloped to allow for more walking and cycling to school and work, while office workers should try to incorporate more activity into their working hours.
Education lies at the heart of a healthy nation. Understanding that everything you put in your mouth affects, in one way or another, how your body functions and what it looks like, will ultimately help you to choose the right foods.
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