Obesity is a contributing cause of non-communicable chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. It has been defined by health experts as “the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century worldwide”. A new study by researchers at RTI International, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reafirms the need to take urgent action. The study reports that, between 1998 and 2006, the prevalence of obesity (Body Mass Index greater than 30) increased by 37 percent in the US and that annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity have doubled, accounting for 9.1 per cent of annual medical expenditures in 2006 compared with 6.5 percent in 1998. It also shows that an obese person has $1,429 (42 percent) per year more medical costs than someone of normal weight and that prescription drug payments for obese individuals are roughly $600 more per year than drug payments for normal weight people.
The World Self-Medication Industry takes this opportunity to point out that non-communicable chronic diseases are preventable through appropriate self-care behaviour. Research has shown that good health behavior is influenced by a complex combination of individual psychological factors together with knowledge and social, environmental and economic factors. One of the environmental factors is the availability of safe and effective nonprescription medicines which help empower people to look after themselves better.