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Modern Technology Adds to Obesity

Update Date: Aug 24, 2012 08:00 AM EDT

While new technologies make our life simple, they are also bringing in complexities to our health. A new study by researchers at the Milken Institute in California, an independent economic think tank, shows how the increasing amount of time that we spend using computers, playing video games and watching TV contributes to obesity worldwide.

The researchers have found a direct link between the rise in adoption of new information and communications technology and the tremendous rise in obesity in 27 countries between 1988 and 2009.  

"Technological innovations, more processed foods, a greater amount of 'screen time,' less exercise, and higher consumption of snack foods have all played a role," report co-author and economist Anusuya Chatterjee said in an institute news release. "These are all the adverse effects of a knowledge-based society."

 There are more than 500 million adults around the world who fall into the category of with United States topping the list in the percentage of obese adults. Nations that follow are Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

However, it is not just the developed nations that are affected by the epidemic. The number of obese people in developing nations is on a fast rise. Number of obese people more than doubled in China between 2002 and 2008. 

For the study, the researchers looked into the affects that knowledge-based technology had on obesity rates in 27 countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, Medical Xpress reported.

The researchers compared the level of investment and communication technology (ICT) for each country, with its obesity rates. 

They found that for every 10 percent increase in ICT investment, there was an average rise of 1.4 percent in the obesity. However, the study authors explained, a 1 percent increase in the number of physically active people can prevent a 0.2 percent rise in obesity in each country. 

Obesity is linked to various chronic diseases and disability and could contribute to high human and economic costs for countries the authors said. 

"In addition to the human suffering, a key concern is the price tag. In the U.S., the medical burden of obesity climbed to 9.1 percent of annual medical spending in 2006 from 6.5 percent in 1998. Today, it is probably 12 percent and rising," concluded the report, published this month by the Milken Institute.

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