Before its four-day congress of 2,000 experts from 80 countries, Professor Constantine Tsigos, chairman of the 14th European Congress on Obesity, made it very clear that obesity is not a health crisis affecting over 300 million people worldwide.
He stressed that "it is not an aesthetic problem" but a "complex problem tightly connected to diabetes, atherosclerosis (blocked arteries) and other major health problems and causes of death." People must understand the causes and consequences of obesity and prevention efforts must be geared especially to the young who are at greatest risk of developing major life-long health problems as a result of childhood obesity which has reached epidemic proportions in many European countries, Japan, and the United States.
At the same time the European Congress on Obesity was urging the worldÃs nations to treat obesity as a disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was doing just that by dispatching an investigatory team of specialists to West Virginia to study an outbreak of obesity in the very same way it would study an outbreak of an infectious disease. For some reason, West VirginiaÃs rate of obesity is rising faster than it is in the rest of the country. West Virginia already ranks fourth in the nation in obesity (at 27.6%), fourth in diabetes (10.2%), and first in high blood pressure (33.1%).
The three-week investigation sought to find out why this situation has developed in a particular area of the country. The data is being analyzed at this time and preliminary finding may be available by August.