Obesity now affects 10% of the world’s population, based on a global analysis of overweight and obesity trends from the past 25 years.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, this paper tapped into roughly 1,800 data sets from around the world to assess overweight and obesity trends. Together, these data sets included health information on 68.5 million individuals from 195 countries between 1990 and 2015.
As part of a thorough analysis, researchers noted a rapid increase in overweight and obesity rates since 1990. Over the past 25 years, obesity rates have doubled in more than 70 countries and have continuously increased in most other countries. Authors also note that while obesity rates are lower in children than adults, childhood obesity rates are rising much more quickly than in adults.
As of 2015, authors estimate that obesity affected nearly 108 million children and 604 million adults, contributing to 4 million deaths globally. More than two-thirds of deaths were related to heart disease, and nearly 40% of these deaths occurred in people who were overweight, not obese.
In this study, overweight was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25–29, while obesity was defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.
According to authors, the rapid increase in overweight and obesity rates is cause for major public health concern. It’s well established that overweight and obesity significantly increase risk for heart disease, diabetes and many other serious health conditions. As this study shows, excess weight already contributes to millions of deaths each year, even in adults that are simply overweight. Experts believe that it’s going to take concerted public health efforts to combat rising obesity rates and promote better health.