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Obesity Rates in OECD Countries: An International Perspective

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Abstract

Obesity is a growing concern. New World Health Organization (WHO) figures indicate that obesity is spreading around the world as a "global epidemic." According to the WHO, there are more people suffering overweight related problems than malnutrition. Globally there are more than 1 billion adults who are overweight and at least 300 million of them are clinically obese, while 800 million suffer malnutrition (WHO 2004). The body mass index (BMI) is a common and accepted measure to report obesity rates (see WHO 1997). BMI is measured as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Recommended BMI levels are generally between a numerical value of 20 and 25. An individual with a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, while an individual with a BMI above 30 is considered obese. Individuals with BMIs below 20 are considered thin.

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