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Heart diseases claim 17m lives: WHF

DAWN, 7 June 2002

GENEVA, June 6: One billion people are overweight or obese, contributing to the 17 million deaths a year caused by heart disease or strokes, the World Heart Federation warned on Thursday. The worldwide federation of heart specialists—which announced the launch of World Heart Day on Sept 29—said it had observed a twelvefold increase in mortality for 25- to 35-year-olds.

Research shows that the most common obesity-related conditions—heart disease, diabetes-mellitus, high blood pressure and cholestorol—contribute to these million of lives lost every year, the federation added in a statement.

An estimated 22 million children under five are overweight. Nearly one in three children in the United States between the ages of five and 14 are overweight, against one in six 30 years ago, according to the president of the federation, Mario Maranhao.

Urban populations in many countries have changed their diets, increasing their consumption of saturated fats and sugar, and reducing fibre consumption, he said. Low-and middle-income countries are increasingly affected by obesity, the federation said.

As little as a one-percent increase in the prevalence of obesity in countries such as India and China can lead to 20 million additional cases of obesity, Maranhao said. The poor in every country typically eat what they can afford, rather than what they know is healthy, he added.

Spiralling health costs associated with the ailment were also an increasing problem, the Federation said, quoting figures from the US Centers for Disease Control which indicated that 9.4 percent of the United States' national health care budget went on treating overweight patients.-AFP