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HEALTH REPORT – August 14, 2002: Obesity and Heart Disease - 2002-08-13

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

More people around the world are becoming too fat. The World Heart Federation in Geneva, Switzerland, reports that the number of overweight and obese people is increasing. The organization says about seven-hundred-million people around the world weigh too much. It says about three-hundred-million adults are obese. Obese people are fatter than those who are simply overweight.

Health experts fear this increase in obesity will lead to an increase in the number of people with heart disease and stroke. The World Heart Federation estimates seventeen-million people around the world die each year from heart disease or stroke. Research shows these two conditions are among the most common health problems related to obesity. Others include diabetes and high blood pressure.

A new American study says being even moderately overweight increases the chances of developing heart failure. The study says the risk of heart failure is one-hundred percent higher among obese people, compared with those of normal weight. The risk is thirty-four percent higher among overweight people.

Janet Voute (JAH-net VOTE) heads the World Heart Federation. She says that obesity is not just a problem in rich countries. It has also become a problem in developing nations. Mizz Voute says people’s lives become less healthy when they move from farming areas to cities. For example, as people earn more money, they stop walking or riding bicycles and instead buy a car. Also, people in cities eat fewer fruits and vegetables and more fatty foods and foods with no nutritional value.The World Heart Federation is also concerned that obesity in children is increasing. The World Health Organization estimates that about twenty-two-million children under age five are overweight. In the United States, eleven percent of children are obese. In Beijing, China, twenty percent of school children are obese. Sixteen percent of schoolboys in Saudi Arabia are considered obese.

The World Heart Federation is urging governments to support healthy ways of living as part of its campaign against obesity. Officials say the best ways to prevent obesity is to increase physical exercise, reduce television watching and eat more healthy foods.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Jill Moss. This is