World’s Obese Population Hits 641 Million? the obesity epidemic is running rampant worldwide.
The latest study, published in The Lancet, states that 641 million people worldwide are considered obese, and that number is only expected to increase. By 2025, one in five people will be added to the list.
“This study provides the longest and most complete picture of trends in adult BMI, including, for the first time, in underweight and severe and morbid obesity, which are of enormous clinical and public health interest,” writes the research team.
The researchers analyzed population-based studies and estimated BMI trends of 19 million adults from 1975 to 2014 in nearly 200 countries and territories.
Wealthier, English-speaking countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK accounted for more than a quarter of the world’s severely obese population.
Other areas that had striking findings were seen in the Caribbean and the Middle East, where 40 to 50 percent of women are obese. China also showed a drastic trend. In 1975, the nation was 60th and 41st for severely obese men and women, respectively. As of 2014, the Chinese placed second for both sexes.
“If post-2000 trends continue, the probability of meeting the global obesity target is virtually zero. Rather, if these trends continue, by 2025, global obesity prevalence will reach 18 percent in men and surpass 21 percent in women; severe obesity will surpass six percent in men and nine percent in women,” write the authors.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, more than a fifth of men in India, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and a quarter of women in Bangladesh and India were underweight, the study found.
The study authors state that simply relying on medications to curb the health conditions caused by obesity will not solve this epidemic. Global efforts to develop new policies are needed, and stomach-shrinking surgeries may become the most effective intervention for weight loss and disease prevention.
BMI is calculated by dividing the square of a person’s height with their body mass. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight while a score of 35 or higher correlates to severe obesity. However, debates on BMI’s effectiveness of evaluating an individual’s overall health have been ongoing.
A. Janet Tomiyama, director of UCLA’s Dieting, Stress and Health Laboratory, has been one of many experts in the field to say that there are many other factors that depict a person’s overall health than just BMI measurements. But others argue it is still an effective tool to use on a broader scale.