Advancing excellence in laboratory medicine for better healthcare worldwide

Facing the obesity epidemic challenge


Contributed by Bernard Gouget, SFBC-FESCC representative, FESCC advisory board member

The evidence for the pandemic non-communicable chronic disease is irrefutable. Yet, programs for preventive strategies remain undeveloped. Chronic non-communicable diseases are replacing progressively acute and communicable as a dominant health problem. They represent a huge proportion of human diseases, a major cause of disability and death, and the use of health resources, both in developed and developing countries. The relationship between diet, physical activity and health has been scientifically established in particular the role of lifestyles as determinants of chronic non communicable disease and condition such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory disease and hypertension, cancer and diabetes. Chronic diseases collectively account for more than 70% of the total burden of diseases in the population aged 30 y and older. For example, the global number of people with diabetes was estimated to be 171 million, 2.8% of the world population, a figure projected to increase in 2030 to 366 millions, 300 millions of whom will live in developing countries. Chronic diseases are sharing key factors such as tobacco use and obesity. These risks and the diseases they produce are not the exclusive preserve of rich nations. Obesity is an international public health priority. Obesity is an independent risk factor for poorly health, but is also strongly associated with insuline resistance leading to type 2 diabetes, dyslipidaemia and hypertension. Obese people are more likely to die prematurely from cancer and cardiovascular disease, stroke and, on average, life expectancy is significantly reduced. Obesity leads to mechanical disorders including breathlessness and back pain and many obese people experience a significantly impaired quality of life.

There is a urgent need for a better understanding of the etiology of obesity, research activities on the efficacy and effectiveness of dietary management, lifestyle factors as cause of obesity, the inter-individual susceptibility to obesity-related disease, and related metabolic diseases. The FESCC scientists must contribute to the development of strategies for the early detection and prevention of non-communicable diseases, including obesity. It is the only realistic approach to avert an imminent global health and economic crisis. The FESCC members as health professional are particularly committed to intervene early and to develop appropriate strategies, concerted and coordinated political actions in collaboration with national agencies and nongovernmental organizations with a long term, sustainable perspective to make the healthy choices and the preferred alternatives at both the individual and community level. Nutrition, diet and physical activities should be also the subject of close cooperation between regulators and stakeholders in the EU, and in other countries where rising levels of overweight and obesity are of great concern.

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