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Cars, computers, TVs spark obesity, diabetes in poor nations

Feb 11 2014, 13:51 IST
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People in low and middle-income countries who own televisions, cars and computers are more likely to develop obesity and diabetes. Reuters People in low and middle-income countries who own televisions, cars and computers are more likely to develop obesity and diabetes. Reuters
SummaryThe spread of obesity and type-2 diabetes could become epidemic in low-income countries.

People in low and middle-income countries who own televisions, cars and computers are more likely to develop obesity and diabetes, according to a new study.

The spread of obesity and type-2 diabetes could become epidemic in low-income countries, as more individuals are able to own higher priced items such as TVs, computers and cars, researchers said.

The international study, led by Canada's Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Scott Lear, analysed data on more than 150,000 adults from 17 countries, ranging from high and middle income to low-income nations.

Researchers, who questioned participants about ownership as well as physical activity and diet, found a 400 per cent increase in obesity and a 250 per cent increase in diabetes among owners of these items in low-income countries.

The study also showed that owning all three devices was associated with a 31 per cent decrease in physical activity, 21 per cent increase in sitting and a nine cm increase in waist size compared with those who owned no devices.

Comparatively, researchers found no association in high-income countries, suggesting that the effects of owning items linked to sedentary lifestyles has already occurred, and is reflected in current high rates of these conditions.

"With increasing uptake of modern-day conveniences - TVs, cars, computers - low- and middle-income countries could see the same obesity and diabetes rates as in high-income countries that are the result of too much sitting, less physical activity and increased consumption of calories," said Lear.

The results can lead to "potentially devastating societal health care consequences" in these countries, Lear added.

Rates of increase of obesity and diabetes are expected to rise as low- and middle-income countries develop and become more industrialised, researchers said.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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