Health at a Glance 2007: OECD Indicators (Health at a by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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At a microlevel, estimates from the United States indicate that the cost of health care services is 36% higher, and the cost of medications 77% higher, for obese people than for people of normal weight (Sturm, 2002). There is a time lag of several years between the onset of obesity and related health problems, suggesting that the rise in obesity over the past two decades observed in most OECD countries will mean higher health care costs in the future. A number of behavioural and environmental factors have contributed to the rise in overweight and obesity rates in industrialised countries, including falling real prices of food and more time spent being physically inactive.

2001). Despite the increase in low birth weight babies, Japanese medical care for newborns has been particularly successful in reducing infant mortality. 4 shows some correlation between the percentage of low birth weight infants and infant mortality rates. In general, countries reporting a low proportion of low birth weight infants also report relatively low infant mortality rates. This is the case for instance for the Nordic countries. Japan, however, is an exception, reporting the highest proportion of low birth weight infants but one of the lowest infant mortality rates.

2006) and Mexico, reflecting the disadvantaged living conditions of many of these mothers. 5 pounds) irrespective of the gestational age of the infant. This is based on epidemiological observations regarding the increased risk of death to the infant and serves for international comparative health statistics. The number of low birth weight births is then expressed as a percentage of total live births. The majority of the data comes from birth registers, however in the case of the Netherlands, the source is a national health interview survey.

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