More than 3 million Costa Ricans are overweight or obese

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    Obesity is among the most common health problems in the country and in Latin America

    In Costa Rica, 64.2% of the population suffers from this problem, i.e., 3,118,831.51 people.

    Of these, 1,272,794.17 (26.2%) are obese and 1,846,037.34 (38%) are overweight.

    According to Rossana Alcaraz, academic director of the Latin American Institute of Metabolism and Nutrition, the main problem is that it appears normal for a person to be “gordita”.

    However, this is not a problem unique to Costa Rica, since the larger area all have this issue in varying percentages.

    The country with the lowest percentage of overweight and obesity in the population is Cuba with 43.5%, and the highest percentage of 76.6% with Honduras.

    “We have an alarming situation of obesity, according to the World Health Organization in 2015. They say we have 1.900 million individuals overweight, and 60 million of them are obese,” he said.

    For the specialist, these figures mean that the evolution of overweight people is headed towards obesity, which generates concern about the possible risks involved.

    What is most worrisome about Latin America is that all countries, except Cuba, are dealing with over 50% of its population being overweight, and having 60% or more of the total population with these problems is considered a situation in red for risk.

    “Costa Rica has 64.2% of its population as overweight and obese. If we break down Costa Rica, the country has 26.2% of its citizens as obese and 38% overweight, obviously not the country with the highest degree of obesity in Latin America, but it is a very important degree of obesity, “he said.

    The problem of obesity is that it impacts all sectors, including transportation.

    This is a health and economic problem that is related to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, making it an expensive disease.

    “Obesity will have a cost that will contribute to cost of medical care because it is an expensive disease that will lead to other diseases which is the central problem. We also see that when we control obesity, other diseases have reduced costs,” said the specialist in obesity and metabolism.

    For her, the disadvantage is that the Ministries of Health do not have the financial resources to treat, diagnose and eradicate obesity.

    Other costs that increase with obesity is production because having a population sick leads to not producing 100% for disabilities, for absences, and among others; plus cost of human capital that at some point affects academic development.

    Finally, in transportation will also increase because “an airline will have higher fuel costs once passengers are 30 or 40% more overweight.”

    The specialist said that what people are doing wrong is neglecting exercise and good nutrition.

    “Obesity is a disease of multi-factorial, is not a political or a specific program problem. Then we add in genetic factors such as genes that are related to obesity and diabetes, and when in the correct environment these genes will be expressed,” he said.

    This means that if one takes a healthy lifestyle, these genes would not have the chance to develop.

    Physical inactivity is the main “disease” because less and less exercise is done and the body receives less movement.


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