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Obesity is considered to be one of the global health, social and economic problems of the world. Obesity has become the main cause of the increase of disability of Americans, and its treatment is more expensive than the struggle with the consequences of smoking and alcoholism. Among the discussed topics and introduced means of salvation from the epidemic are the labeling of products, limits on the content of sugar and taxes on “the harmful effects”.
According to the data of the World Health Organization (WHO), today 1 billion people in the world are overweight and 300 million of them suffer from obesity. Most developed countries suffer from this problem the most. In the U.S., excess weight is observed among the biggest part of the adult population, obesity is a problem of every third of them (Traill, 73-86).
Until recently, the picture has been quite different. In the United States in 1990 there were no states in which the number of patients would exceed 14% of the population, and already in 2002, no states where this figure was below 15%.
As it was stated in the recent report of the Research Corporation Rand, there are two causes of this problem. The first one is computerization and motorization, which involve sitting office work, no time for self-cooking, and rejection of hiking and biking in favor of the car. The second reason is the movement in food prices: during the recent decades, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables grew faster, and the prises for sweets and soft drinks – slower than the consumer price index. Meanwhile, price and taste, the most accessible and inexpensive means of establishing which is sugar, are the main engines of sales in the absence of other information about the product (Smith P.K, 12-28).
Already in the 80ies it became clear that obesity is epidemic. However, until recently, when it was understood that it costs more than traditional bad habits, people cared much more about smoking and alcoholism (Smith J.C, 44-52).
According to Rand, affected by this disease people spend on services to hospitals an average of 36%, and for medicine – 77% more money than people with normal weight. Same indexes for smokers are much smaller – 21% and 28% respectively. And alcoholics, consuming the doctor spend 14% more money than other people, ans they spend on medicine 12% less than others.
Percentage of these expenses in general cost of treatment also grows: in 1985, older Americans gave one of ten dollars of medical personnel budget in the second decade of this century for combating the effects of obesity, as predicted by Rand, soon this index will increase to $5.
However, the most threatening consequence of the epidemic is the mass loss of ability to work. Especially it concerns people, who are now 30-40 years old. Since the mid 80’s for – the second half of the 90’s the number of people in this age, unable to maintain themselves and perform other routine operations, has grown in the U.S., for more than a half. Almost the same pattern we can see in other age groups. Despite the fact that the predominant cause of disability of Americans are mental illnesses, obesity develops with such a speed that can explain the increase in disability.