At least 1.1 billion adults and 10 % of children are now overweight or obese, leading to decreased life expectancy due to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or some types of cancer.
Though there are signs of progress in some countries "no health system is yet meeting the challenges of managing obesity, and no society has developed an effective strategy to prevent it", states the editorial. The Lancet believes that prevention of obesity is only likely with fundamental changes to societies that involve, for example, production and availability of cheap healthy foods; urban planning to ensure that people exercise more; education about eating beginning in schools; and a global code to promote only healthy food and drink to children.
The Lancet comments: "The challenge is clear. Strong governmental leadership is essential to drive the necessary policy changes forwards-- with legislation introduced within 2 years of voluntary codes failing--in partnerships that cross government departments, the media, the food industry, and retail and leisure sectors. Only then can we expect visible progress to reduce obesity and to curb the epidemic."