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The World Health Organization states that more than 1.5 billion adults, aged 20 and older are overweight, of which at least 500 million are obese (WHO, 2011). In addition, over 45 million children, under the age of five, are obese (ibid). Worldwide the obesity rate has more than doubled since 1980 (ibid). These statistics are particularly alarming because obesity is a preventable illness. This drastic increase in more recent years demonstrates the need for intervention. Environmental aspects which have caused the current obesity epidemic can be described by four important changes in our society. Primarily the epidemic largely stems from increased food availability resulting from augmented international trade. In addition, the current epidemic largely results from the shift of food ingredients from primarily plant-based products to animal-based. Furthermore, current ingredients have led to adaptations in the human brain size essential for intellectual growth. Finally, our environment has led to substantial alterations in activity patterns and has ultimately caused a sedentary lifestyle in both children and adults. The current rise in obesity can be attributed to the changing environment and our acquired habits resulting from these changes. Although humans have created excellent physiological mechanisms to defend against weight gain, these mechanisms are unable to sustain a normal weight if consumption of food is constant. The current epidemic can be attributed to shifts in the global environment resulting in changed eating patterns and decreased activity levels.
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