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This is a blend of global with obesity and refers to the looming public health crisis worldwide caused by excessive weight gain. A writer at the World Health Organisation coined it in a report in February 2001 on the increasing risk caused by obesity worldwide, which is classed by many health professionals as much more serious a problem than smoking. The fat epidemic — mainly the result of poor diet — is often thought to be peculiarly a US problem (61% of Americans are categorised as overweight and 26% as obese), or more generally of the developed world (a European Union conference in Copenhagen last week heard that that within 15 years at least 75% of British men and women will be overweight), but it is a problem increasingly shared by developing countries (WHO says that 18% of the global population is obese and that malnutrition and obesity often now both occur within the same countries). The problem of obesity is particularly worrying because it is affecting children even more than adults, leading for example to the early onset of Type Two diabetes, at one time unknown in childhood.

“Globesity” is fast becoming more of a problem than famine and under-nutrition, and has now reached a point where it is becoming a serious threat to the health of every nation striving for economic development, scientists said yesterday.

Independent, Feb. 2002

The Lancet’s cancer journal, Lancet Oncology ... warns that the obesity epidemic — or “globesity” as the World Health Organisation termed it recently — threatens a public health crisis.

Guardian, Aug. 2002

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 28 Sep. 2002

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 28 September 2002.