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Last updated at 15:10 BST, Friday, 18 May 2012

Global obesity on the rise


18 May 2012

The World Health Organisation says more and more people around the world are suffering from health conditions which increase their risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. Recent statistics compiled using data from all 194 member states, showed conditions such as high blood pressure are increasing in all regions of the world.


Imogen Foulkes

An overweight person

Larger waistlines are on the increase.


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More fat, more sugar, more salt, less exercise – more and more people around the world are suffering the consequences. Since 1980, the WHO's report reveals levels of obesity have doubled in every region of the world. Half a billion people, or 12 per cent of the global population, are now considered obese. One in three adults suffer from high blood pressure – a condition that causes half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease. And blood sugar levels are rising too – 10 per cent of the world's population is diabetic.

The WHO's report is not all bad news though: the statistics show that maternal mortality rates have fallen dramatically in the last 20 years, from over half a million in 1990 to less than 300,000 in 2010. And vaccination campaigns have significantly reduced deaths from childhood diseases such as measles.

But the global rise in deaths from heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and the rise in the conditions which lead to those deaths, is causing alarm. The WHO wants all its member states to tackle risk factors such as poor diet, and smoking, and set targets for reducing deaths.


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activity, physical movement

the consequences

the effects


fatness, having too much body weight


experience, endure something negative

blood sugar levels

the amount or concentration of glucose in the blood


to suffer from diabetes - a disease where the body produces too much sugar in the blood

mortality rates

deaths in an area relating to the population number


medicine to protect against diseases

risk factors

behaviour that increases the likelihood of something

set targets

establish goals

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