The Problem

The cost of inaction is clear and unacceptable. Through investing in vigorous and well targeted prevention and control now, there is real opportunity to make significant progress and improve the lives of populations across the globe"
—LEE Jong-wook, Director-General, World Health Organization

The United States is currently facing a health crisis of unprecedented proportions. Unhealthy diet is a major cause of health problems such as obesity and chronic disease, which are now increasingly beginning in childhood.

  • The youth of today are the first generation predicted to have a lower life expectancy than their parents.

  • Children as young as 7 years old have diseases formerly classed as those of adulthood, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and many forms of cancer.
  • The number of children who are overweight or obese has more than tripled since 1980, being now more than 16% - that's over 9 million children in the U.S. As adults, over 30% of Americans are obese, 60 million people.
  • The U.S. spends more on health care than any other industrialized country, yet has one of the highest rates of life threatening disease. This cost totaled $1.5 trillion in 2002 and is still rising at an alarming rate.1

The impact of chronic disease is not restricted to the U.S. - it is global in reach.

  • 60% of deaths are due to chronic disease and 80% of these deaths are now thought to occur in low and middle income countries.
  • An estimated 1 billion people worldwide are overweight; that includes 22 million children under the age of five.
  • Each year, 2.6 million people die as a result of being overweight or obese; 4.4 million due to raised total cholesterol levels; and 7.1 million due to raised blood pressure - many of these deaths could be avoided with improvements to diet.2


1 Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, , accessed 10/5/05

2 World Health Organization, 'Preventing Chronic Disease: A Vital Investment', 05 October 2005,

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 November 2010 20:38


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