Russia, South Africa and Brazil are all found to have the same levels of overweight adults as the OECD average

Obesity levels are increasing in developing countries, according to the OECD.

Obesity is a significant problem for developed OECD countries, where approximately half of the population is overweight, and one in six people is obese.

However, developing countries also face this threat, though are not as equipped to tackle obesity-induced health issues, such as diabetes and cardiac disease.

Among other concerns, unhealthy diets and lack of sufficient exercise are key factors in increasing levels of overweight adults.

Obesity levels in six developing countries were assessed: China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Although China and India were reported to have significantly lower levels of obesity, the OECD claims that these levels are increasing.

Russia, South Africa and Brazil were found to have similar levels of overweight adults to the OECD average of 50%, while roughly 70% of Mexican adults were reported as being either overweight or obese.

To counter these problems, the OECD recommends that these countries address them now, rather than waiting until treatment of obesity-related illnesses become more expensive.

Ways in which obesity can be tackled should include taxes and subsidies to improve diets, mass media campaigns promoting healthier lifestyles and restrictions on food advertising, said the OECD.

The annual costs of these broad-based prevention strategies tackling obesity and related threats, such as smoking and cholesterol, would be as little as US$2 per person in India and China and up to US$4 per person in South Africa, Russia and Mexico.

Furthermore, the OECD says that these strategies would pay for themselves as health care costs lower, before becoming cost-effective within 15 years from implementation.

The OECD report also notes the increase of childhood obesity in developing countries, suggesting that specific action should be taken to tackle it, such as tougher regulations of food advertising aimed at children.