TIME Obesity

Poor Economy Has Fueled Rising Obesity Rates, Study Finds

Amid the lasting recession more families have had to cut back on how much they spend on food, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — often favoring less healthy but cheaper options

A new report suggests that obesity rates are spiraling in developed countries, thanks in part to the global economic slowdown of the past few years.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report released Wednesday says that sharper increases in obesity rates have been observed in women and the poor, and in countries such as France, Australia, Switzerland and Mexico, where the obesity rate climbs by as much as three per cent a year.

But not all developed countries have been affected in the same way; stable obesity rates have been observed in the United States, Italy and Canada.

Researchers at the OECD wrote that “the economic crisis is likely to have contributed to further growth in obesity,” as many families hit by the recession in 2008 had to cut back on healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, which are often more expensive than less healthy options.

Although the overall growth rate of obesity has slowed among developed countries, the report suggests governments still need to do more in order to get their citizens to slim down. High obesity rates can cost governments dearly, through treatment of obesity-linked conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

“The economic crisis may have contributed to a further growth in obesity, but most governments need to do more to stop this rising tide,” OECD health policy analyst Michele Cecchini said in a statement.

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