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We often hear about the obesity epidemic sweeping the world. But is the situation really so bad or is it all just media hype?

Well, figures don't lie, and the figures on obesity throughout the world are horrendous. Recent research indicates that 50% of adults in countries represented by the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are overweight or obese. Over one billion adults worldwide have a BMI over 30.

From Brazil to South Africa, and Canada to Australia, obesity levels are increasing year after year. Even in countries such as India and China, people are getting simply fatter.

The adoption of a more Western approach to food is largely to blame for the global obesity epidemic. Throughout the word, more and more people are eating junk food, takeaways and processed meals.

Countries with traditionally healthy diets are becoming increasingly fond of higher calorie alternatives such as burgers, pizzas, and fried chicken. If you replace moderate portions of rice and lean meat with larger portions of fatty foods, it's easy to see how quickly obesity levels can rise.

There are a number of developed counties in the world where the obesity epidemic hasn't struck. In Japan and South Koreas, obesity levels are approximately 3%. In the Netherlands and Switzerland, rates are still comfortably under 10%. These examples are proof that obesity is still a choice. It's not an unstoppable trend. But whether it can be reversed, once the problem has taken hold, is another matter.

However, despite the obesity problems, life expectancy is on the rise in most developed countries. We are all living longer, thanks to better medicine and better treatment. People living to a hundred is now no longer a notable event. But, just think of how much longer we could all live, if we maintained a healthy weight.

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