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Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2008 Sep;116 Suppl 1:S30-2. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1081485. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Is the worldwide epidemic of obesity a communicable feature of globalization?

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Department of Medicine, University of Dresden, Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, Germany.


Globalization has a major impact on both economic and social determinants in public health. The current worldwide epidemic in obesity needs to be considered in the context of globalization as a communicable rather than non-communicable process. There is increasing evidence that global trends in lifestyle, eating behavior and cultural adaptation contribute to the rapid increase in obesity around the world. Thus, obesity may be defined as a "socially-contagious" feature of globalization. Furthermore, infectious agents are being identified that may cause obesity by central mechanisms or by modulating adipocyte function or at least by contributing to the chronic inflammatory milieu of the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, globalization may indeed form a critical platform for these pathogens to fuel the obesity epidemic. Understanding obesity in the light of globalization as a communicable disorder will allow outlining better avenues of prevention and treatment.

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