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May 30, 2014

Worldwide Obesity Rates 'Startling'

Major study finds obesity rates have increased dramatically in all corners of the world over last three decades.

The rise in worldwide obesity rates over the last three decades is “startling,” according to a major research study recently published in The Lancet.

Described as the most comprehensive report on global obesity rates to date, this study analyzed obesity rates in adults and children between 1980 and 2013. Using data from 188 countries from all regions of the world, researchers were able to identify obesity trends around the world—the results of which give cause for concern.

In the past 33 years, the number of overweight and obese individuals has more than doubled from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013. Overweight and obesity rates have increased by 25% in adults and 47% in children during this time period and it’s not just developed countries that have experienced these troubling trends. Among high-income countries, some of the highest increases in adult obesity were in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, where 25-33% of the adults are obese. However, experts estimate that currently, 62% of the world’s obese people live in developing countries. And unlike other major health risks like smoking, obesity rates are not falling.

Last year, the United Nations committed to stopping the rise in obesity rates worldwide by 2025 but based on the latest findings, experts are concerned. There is evidence of a plateau in adult obesity rates, particularly in some developed countries. But experts believe that without further research and interventions to combat obesity rates, stopping the obesity epidemic will be difficult.

There’s no question that obesity is a major public health concern and this study reinforces the importance of tackling the issue head on. The consequences of overweight and obesity can be life-threatening and reversing current trends are essential to improving the health of individuals from all corners of the world.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is obesity?
  • Obesity is defined as excess body fat, which can lead to serious health consequences. Obesity is typically measured by body mass index, which measures weight in relation to height. Adults with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.
  • What is the best way to lose weight?

  • Weight loss boils down to a simple formula: burn more energy each day than you take in from food. A deficit of 3500 calories will net one pound of fat loss. Therefore, if you cut down your food intake by just 100 calories a day, you can expect to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.

    Although it’s tempting to look for a quick fix with a speedy weight loss scheme, many popular diets are unhealthy or produce only temporary results. You’ll have better luck with an eating plan that includes a variety of healthful foods and gives you enough calories and nutrients to meet your body’s needs. Taking it slow by making ongoing eating and exercise changes is the best way to reach and maintain your optimal weight.

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