50% of Population Overweight

50% of Population Overweight50% of Population Overweight

Statistics show that obesity is growing among Iranians and 50% of the population is overweight. Obesity is a gateway disease with rising prevalence that can lead to a wider range of health complications and increased risk of premature onset of other ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, said Health Minister Hassan Hashemi.

Obesity is a matter of great concern since it poses a serious threat to people’s health. It can be offset by several conditions including genetic, social, environmental, behavioral and physical, he said, IRNA reports.

Stroke is a major cause of death among Iranians affecting 50% of the population, of which 35% is by heart attack and 15%, cerebral apoplexy (affecting the brain).

Nearly 50% of the people with diabetes are not aware that they have the disease and 10 million suffer from high blood pressure, he noted. Timely intervention can prevent complications.

Additionally, 19 million Iranians are said to have “bad eating habits” as they indulge in junk food. Salt consumption in the country is three to four times higher than in neighboring countries, increasing the risk of stroke among people, said deputy health minister, Ali akbar Sayyari, khabaronline reports.

In 2013, 380,000 deaths were registered, of which 93,000 were due to heart attack, 43,000 cerebral apoplexy and 32,000 due to cancer, Sayyari said.

Healthy diet and physical activity are preventive measures against obesity and its consequences. It is important to encourage a healthy food culture at an early age.  

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), choosing healthy foods for infants and young children is critical, since food preferences are established in early life. Feeding infants high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods is a key contributor to childhood obesity. Without intervention, obese infants and young children will likely continue to be obese during childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Breastfeeding from birth to six months of age is an important way to help prevent infants from becoming overweight or obese.

The Health Reform Plan launched in May 2014 will help promote healthy lifestyles across the country. Deaths due to non-communicable diseases and smoking will be reduced by 25% and 30% respectively over the next 10 years and in turn, the average life expectancy is expected to rise, Sayari added.

Three decades ago the average life expectancy of Iranians was 55 years which now has reached 73 years. The average life expectancy with disabilities is 62 years.