World Obesity Rate on the Rise: 2.1B People Now Overweight or Obese

Image: World Obesity Rate on the Rise: 2.1B People Now Overweight or Obese

Friday, 30 May 2014 01:25 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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World obesity has increased and will continue to rise, with people from both rich and poor countries becoming more and more overweight, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet on Thursday.

The research, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called for a worldwide response to obesity. According to the study, a staggering 2.1 billion people worldwide are considered obese or overweight.

"Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge," the study stated. "Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene."

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According to the data, the proportion of adults with a body-mass index of 25 or more increased from 28.8 percent of men in 1980 to 36.9 percent in 2013, and from 29.8 percent of women in 1980 to 38 percent last year.

That trend also crossed over to children, with the proportion of overweight boys in developed countries increasing from 8.1 percent to 12.9 percent, and the rate of girls going from 8.4 percent to 13.4 percent.

"In adults, estimated prevalence of obesity exceeded 50 percent in men in Tonga and in women in Kuwait, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, Tonga, and Samoa," the study stated.

"We were definitely surprised to see that no country had successfully decreased obesity rates in the past 33 years," Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou told Medscape Medical News. "We expected to find at least a few success stories, as we did with tobacco in a study earlier this year."

Dr. Hermann Toplak, a professor in the University of Graz, Austria's department of medicine, spoke recently at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria. He said that technology has led to the decrease in exercise and physical activity and it will take creative solutions to bring the obesity numbers down, wrote Medscape.

"Overweight and obesity have substantially increased everywhere in the world and have undoubtedly become the major health issues of the 21st century," Toplak told the conference. "Over the past decades the modernization of our world, with all the technology around us, has led to physical inactivity on all levels."

"It is well-known that people who stop exercising lose the control of their food intake, whereas those who continue exercising eat adequately in relation to their energy needs," he continued.

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