Cheap Food Causes Obesity - Study

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By Ma Evelyn Castino Quilas | May 28, 2014 10:11 AM EST

Obesity hits people of all ages regardless of economic status or environment because of cheap food according to a recent study.

According to a study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, about one fourth of the people's disposable income in the 1930 was spent on food. At present, people just spent 10 percent of their income for such.

The study also revealed that food preparation and purchase are also easier at present times compared with the 1930 situation. There is also increased availability of food varieties on top of high calorie food consumption. This consequently resulted to an average of 20 percent additional calorie intake since the 1970s.

In addition, increasing rate of obesity is attributed to increased leisure time, increased availability of fruits and vegetables, and increase exercise uptake. The main drivers of obesity epidemic are economic and technological changes.

The study suggested that there is a need to understand the changes over time affecting people from all walks of life in order to comprehend the role that environment plays in the obesity epidemic. It also mentioned that there is only limited evidence for effective economic policies to address the increasing obesity rate.

According to the data from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), three out of five Australian adults are overweight or obese based on body mass index (BMI). This translates to over 12 million obese people in the country.

Obesity in Aussie adults increases by 5 percent since 1995 with 30 percent more obese people living in outer regional and remote areas than in major Australian cities.

The situation does not just include adults but children as well. The AIHW data also showed that one in every four Aussie children is obese or overweight.

The problem on obesity is not limited only to those people spending time on the beach who want to wear bikinis. This epidemic can also increase the risk for major health related diseases like stroke, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic illnesses.

Obesity and being overweight ranks as the third contributor in the country's burden of diseases after smoking and high blood pressure.

For the year 2003 alone, around 9,500 deaths in Australia were caused by being overweight and obese. Of these cases, 4,900 deaths were caused by ischaemic heart disease, 1,500 cases were due to stroke, and 1,400 were due to type 2 diabetes. In addition, obesity is responsible for around 196,000 disability-adjusted life year (DALYs) of the overall burden of disease and injury in the country for the same year. There is a high probability that these figures might have increased since then.

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