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The word is a blend of diabetes and obesity, which sums up the problem. Doctors in the West and some Asian developing countries are deeply worried about the rapid increase in a form of diabetes called adult-onset or Type 2 diabetes. This used to be a problem of later life but it is now being seen more and more among obese younger people, sometimes even children. A person who is grossly overweight — another problem which is now endemic in some Western nations — has a very high risk of contracting diabetes, so high that the two conditions are considered intimately connected — a situation the new term seeks to express. The cure is the deeply unpopular one of eating less and taking more exercise to reduce weight; even if a person already has adult-onset diabetes caused by being overweight, getting slim can put it into remission. In the US, diabesity is a trademark of a non-profit organisation, Shape Up America, which raises awareness of the health effects of obesity and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

A particular concern is the rapid spread among Asian children of what was once known as adult-onset diabetes. The ailment, which rarely affected children in the past, is so closely linked to obesity that it has been nicknamed “diabesity.”

International Herald Tribune, 17 Mar. 2003

Hand in hand with the obesity rates is a rocketing rate of diabetes. In America, they are even coining a new word for it: diabesity.

Guardian, 10 May 2003

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 14 Jun. 2003

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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: 14 June 2003.