The growing population of overweight people

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"Work in progress" door Marjoleine van der Zwan, EMBA 2009

At the moment Overweight and Obesitas are one of the most important healthcare problems in The Netherlands. There is a growing number of overweight people in first world country's. In a study done in 2006 in The Netherlands 51% of all male and 42% of the women are overweighted. A study done in 2007 (Hurks) showed 14,5 % of the boys and 17,5 % of the girls are overweighted.

Obesity is a chronic disease characterised by an increase of body fat stores.In clinical practice, the body fatness is assessed by the body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated as measured body weight (kg) divided by measured height squared (m2). In adults (age over 18 years) obesity is defined by a BMI≥ 30 kg/m2and overweight (also termed pre-obesity) by a BMI between 25 and 29.9kg/m2.

This starts to be not only an concern of parents, relatives or public schools but also for the government. More people die everyday of overweight related deceases. Many people blame the acceptance of junk-food amongst young people as an weekly or even daily meal and the growing popularity of videogames instead of sports and active activities such as "jumping rope" or "hide and seek".

Health Risks of Obesity and SocioEconomic Consequences of Obesity

Obesity causes a significantly increased morbidity, disability and mortality and impairs quality of life. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of death from both cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers, particularly with higher levels of obesity. In the BMI range 25–30 kg/m2(overweight), the link to increased mortality is weaker and may be more greatly influenced by fat distribution. The association between obesity and mortality weakens with increasing age, especially over 75 years. The increased health risks translate into an increased burden on the healthcare system. Direct health-care costs due to obesity in Europe are estimated to account for up to 7% of total healthcare costs, which is comparable to diseases such as cancer.


  • The advance of information and communication technology
  • The possibility to communicate and play with friends without leaving the house
  • Junkfood/ Increase of amount of carbohydrates in the food consumption, speccially fructose
  • Busy parents
  • Energy rich diet
  • Lesser bodyactivity and sitting lifestyle
  • Underlying diseases, like Cushings syndrom
  • Eating disorder, like boulimia, anorexia
  • Stress
  • Too little sleep
  • Genetical
  • Less education/ knowledge on overweight
  • Cultural preferrence (i.e. Maroccon: symbol of beauty)
  • Increased marketing focussed on children


  • Popularity of sports, increased by i.e. events like Olympic games (China)
  • Trend of health food
  • New generation of motion-games, like Wii
  • Political (EU) intervention
  • Prevention campaign
  • Colorcode on food
  • Regulation in the ingredients producers
  • Self regulation of advertisement
  • Hold on artificial "vetzuren"
  • Decrease of premium on vegetables and fruits
  • Worried parents
  • More awareness on schools
  • Generation Einstein has other values, more sustainable (and green)
  • More media attention
  • Diet goeroes like Sonja Bakker
  • Trend of greener products
  • Labeling of energycontent on packages products
  • Increase of sustainability (increasing awareness)
  • Technology like the dietpill, new operation technics (gastric bypass)
  • Specialised clinics (obesitas clinics)
  • The LOHAS population is growing (LOHAS = .........)
  • Changed financing by health insurers. (prevention is now often declarable)


  • Videogame culture vs. T.V. watchers
  • More deceased because of obesitas
  • Growing concern on (manipulated) food


  • Marshal McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage
  • Nancy Morris, Media and Globalization: Why the State Matters
  • Monroe E. Price, Media and Sovereignty
  • Sonja Bakker, Diet goeroe
  • Dutch obesitas clinic Hilversum, The Netherlands
  • Dutch government: Ministerie van Volksgezondheid,welzijn and sport (Nota Overgewicht)


In a lot of countries the count of overweight children had doubled since 60's. The cases of childhood obesas are growing.

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