Global Obesity

Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate globally causing serious repercussions including poor female reproductive health and infertility.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 300 million people in the world are obese due to poor nutrition and a lack of exercise.

Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate globally causing serious health repercussions including female reproductive problems and infertility.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 300 million people in the world are obese due to poor nutrition and a lack of exercise.

In Australia the prevalence of excess weight and its extreme obesity, has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Experts are linking the rise to sedentary lifestyles and a lack of education.

A recent Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study found that almost 60% of men and women were considered overweight or obese as defined by body or waist circumference.

By measuring waist circumference, the prevalence of obesity was found to be higher in women than men.

In the United Kingdom, an epidemic of child obesity is tipped to cause a drop in life expectancy for the first time in a century. Obesity is being identified in children as young as three years.

One in forty UK women are now “morbidly obese” meaning their health is severely at risk from excess weight. In fact it is estimated that two thirds of the UK population needs to shed pounds – the exact opposite of a century ago when the same proportion of population was underweight due to malnutrition.

In the United States the prevalence of obesity alone rose from 15.0% to 30.9% between 1980 and 2000 and continues to increase. Poor nutrition and physical inactivity now accounts for some 300,000 premature deaths each year.

Studies have found that excessive weight can cause fertility problems due to menstrual irregularities and irregular ovulation, and greatly increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

With obesity comes metabolic changes which human physiology was never designed to withstand. Blood pressure rises as do cholesterol and insulin resistance, the latter leading to an increase in the prevalence of diabetes.

In the space of a single generation in the UK heart problems, diabetes, cancer and respiratory illnesses (non-communicable diseases) now account for more deaths each year than infections such as HIV and malaria.

Yet obesity is not confined to those living in developed nations. In Thailand 15% children obese – up from 12% two years ago. In cities in China one in five adults is obese and there are more than 20 million diabetics.

In Greece, a nation celebrated for its abundance of fresh olive oil and salads, there are high rates of obesity in children.

Foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar are recognised as the major contributor to obesity and overweight. In other words it is the consumption of highly-processed junk food found on supermarket shelves and served up by the fast food industry that is making our population larger figured. As a result food giants and advertisers have come under fire by action groups and health organisations.

Children have become the target of advertising campaigns by high profile multi-national companies with the use of sporting heroes and celebrities to endorse a plethora of junk food.

Furthermore, the use of computers both at work and play, watching television and other home entertainment has all added to a more sedentary life style. The WHO believes that more than half of the world’s population fails to do 30 minutes of moderate activity a day.

To find out how excess weight and obesity effect fertility and pregnancy click here.


  • It takes 90 minutes of running to burn off the calories of a Mars Bar.
  • Coca Cola increased sales by 7 % in 2001 when it teamed up with Warner to promote the movie Harry Potter The Philosopher’s Stone.
  • In the UK £452 million is spent on food advertising. The fast food chain McDonalds accounts for £42 million of this amount.
  • A boy aged eight is the ideal consumer for soft drink companies and the like as he has 65 years consumption ahead of him.


The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study carried out between 1999 and 2000 to measure the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults involved participants aged 25 years and over from 42 randomly selected districts throughout Australia. Guidelines of Body Mass Index or BMI (a formula that identifies the percentage of body tissue that is actually fat by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of your height in metres) and waist circumference were used to determine overweight and/or obesity as follows:

  • A Body Mass Index greater than or equal to 25.0kg/m(2) for both men and women
  • A waist circumference greater than 80cm for women
  • A waist circumference greater than or equal to 94.0cm for men

Of 20,347 eligible people who completed a household interview, 11,247 attended the physical examination at local survey sites providing a 55% response rate.

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