Study: Over 2.2 Billion People Overweight Or Obese Worldwide

There are now more than 2 billion people worldwide who are overweight or obese, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

So, to put that in a different sort of light, there are now roughly the same number of people in the world who are overweight or obese as there are who are chronically malnourished. There’s probably a solution there, but I don’t know what it is. …

Notably the research found that while the US does indeed lead the world as regards childhood obesity — no surprise there — the world leader as far as adult obesity is actually Egypt. Which is a bit interesting considering how rapidly the country is approaching a brick wall of resource and freshwater constraints — I’m guessing that the obesity problem there won’t persist for too much longer.

This ~30% or so of the world’s population that is now overweight or obese is of course prone to health problems that others are not.

As noted in the press release on the matter though: “They are dying even though they are not technically considered obese, researchers found. Of the 4.0 million deaths attributed to excess body weight in 2015, nearly 40% occurred among people whose body mass index (BMI) fell below the threshold 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,” commented Dr Christopher Murray, an author on the study and Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain.”

Part of the reason that I decided to cover this topic is there was another recent study that noted that the switch to a vegetarian diet was far and away one of the most effective means of losing weight, amongst study participants. So, those looking to lose weight, bear that in mind.

The press release provides a bit more: “The study, which spans 195 countries and territories from 1980 through 2015, was released today at the annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum, which aims to create a healthier, more sustainable food system. It is based on data from the most recent Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population. With more than 2,300 collaborators in 133 countries, the GBD study examines 300-plus diseases and injuries.

“In 2015, excess weight affected 2.2 billion children and adults worldwide, or 30% of all people. This includes nearly 108 million children and more than 600 million adults with BMI exceeding 30, the threshold for obesity, according to the study. The prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980 in more than 70 countries and has continuously increased in most other nations. Although the prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than among adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries was greater than that of adults.”

As mentioned at the start of the article, the US currently leads the world as regards obesity amongst children and young adults (13%) and Egypt leads as regards adult obesity (35%). As regards total numbers, the US, China, and India, are right near the top in most categories owing to their large populations. The US of course has considerably fewer people than India or China, but US citizens generally have easy access to high-calorie food — regardless of income level. Interestingly, India currently has around 14.4 million obese children.

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