One-Third Of World Now Overweight, With US Leading The Way

Jane Richards
June 14, 2017

Public Health England says that almost two-thirds of the adult population - 63 percent - were overweight or obese in 2015. Unsurprisingly, the USA had the highest percentage of obese children, at nearly 13 percent.

More than 2 billion people around the world - about a third of the planet's population - are overweight, and another 10 percent are considered obese.

"People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk - risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening conditions", said Christopher Murray, from the University of Washington.

Nearly 108 million children and more than 600 million adults weighed in as obese, having a body mass index (BMI) above 30, said the research that covered 195 countries.

Globally, over two billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, researchers said.

"Excess body weight is one of the most challenging public health problems of our time, affecting almost one in every three people", said Ashkan Afshin, from University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Murray advises people to turn their New Year's resolutions to lose weight into year-round commitments to shed the extra pounds and prevent excess weight in the future.

The researchers analyzed data from 68.5 million people between 1980 and 2015 to explore trends as well as figures regarding overweight and obesity rates.

The study was based on the latest data provided by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, which tracks the impact of more than 300 types of pathology and injury in 133 countries.

The prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980 in more than 70 countries and has continuously increased in most other nations. Women were the most likely to be affected by obesity.

Even though the obesity rate in children remained lower than among adults, it had grown at a faster rate during the study period - a finding experts described as especially "worrisome". Researchers did not find an increase in weight-related rates of death and disability, Gregg observed.

-Worldwide, about 5 percent of children and 12 percent of adults were obese in 2015.

The U.S. accounts for more than 33 percent of that number. One million British children are obese - amounting to 7.5 percent of all children in the UK.

This is the case in countries like the United States, argues Danaei, adding that prevention services leading up to the onset of cardiovascular disease, such as blood sugar monitoring, or care after a heart attack, or stroke, have improved in developed countries. "After a heart attack, the chance of dying is much higher in developing countries", he said. "Increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy dense foods, along with intense marketing of such foods, could explain excess energy intake and weight gain among different populations".

In 2015, excess weight affected 2.2 billion children and adults worldwide, or 30 per cent of all people.

Another potential cause of obesity is that more people live and work in urban environments and have less opportunities for physical activity.

"Over the past decade, numerous interventions have been evaluated, but very little evidence exists about their long- term effectiveness".

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