Obesity rises 5.5-fold in Iran in 4 decades: academic 

December 22, 2018

TEHRAN — Obesity and overweight have grown 5.5 folds over the past four decades in Iran, chancellor of Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences has said. 

Based on the studies salt intake for Iranians amount to 10.6 germs a day which almost doubles global standards, Mohammad Aqajani said, regretting that that daily sugar intake in Iran is 70 grams which should be 40 germs. 

He made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the 3rd International Nutrition Congress aiming at improving public health through innovation and research regarding food and nutrition, held in Tehran on December 19-21, Tasnim news agency reported. 

Unhealthy dietary habits are the key deriver behind developing non-communicable diseases and switching from healthy traditional food to fast foods which contain high amounts of fat and sodium and low fiber are the causes of such disorders.

World Health Organization (WHO) explains that overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in meters). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Once considered a problem only in high income countries, overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men.

Institute of Nutrition Research and Food Industry of the country was established in 1340 (March 1961-March 1962) in Iran and now in collaboration with WHO it organizes various programs to balance nutrition and find the links between unhealthy nutrition and chronic diseases, Aqajani added.

Since the year 1393 (March 2014-March 2015) in a collaborative attempt between Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Food and Drug Administration and Vice Presidency for Science and Technology a comprehensive nutritional health program was launched, Aqajani highlighted.

He went on to say that the program is comprising 4 phases each being implemented in a 4-year period. 

Recognizing toxins in food, improving quality of the food and creating a culture of healthy nutrition are of the objectives of the programs, he added. 

In order to detect toxins in foods Iran has signed agreements with Austria, the Netherlands, and Hungary for technology transfer, he concluded.   

Obesity, overweight 

As per the data revealed by WHO in 2016 more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and 650 million people were obese. Sadly at least 2.8 million people each year die as a result of being obese or overweight. Globally, 41 million preschool children were overweight in 2016. 

In May, Reza Malekzadeh, deputy health minister, announced that deaths linked with overweight and obesity have seen a twofold increase in Iran between 1990 and 2015. 

Out of 372,000 deaths occurred in 1990 some 21,500, nearly 6 percent of the deaths, were weight-related while out of 385,000 deaths in 2015 some 50,000, nearly 13 percent of the deaths, were attributed to overweight and obesity, Malekzadeh said, adding that in 1980 some 2 million people were obese while the number increased 5.5 times in 2015 as about 11 million people are suffering obesity, same goes for people who are overweight; the number jumped from 5 million to 8 million over the same time span.

As WHO puts it curbing global obesity epidemic requires and population-based, multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary and culturally relevant approach. 

MQ/MG

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