More than one billion people globally are now living with obesity, according to a new study

More than one billion people globally are now living with obesity, according to a new study
More than one billion people globally are now living with obesity, according to a new study Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Oceane Duboust
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Obesity rates have increased dramatically among children, teenagers, and adults, with more than one billion people in the world now affected.


More than one billion people in the world are now living with obesity, a new study published in The Lancet has found.

Obesity, defined by a body mass index (BMI) equal to or exceeding 30 for adults, has become the main form of malnutrition in numerous countries.

The prevalence of obesity has risen twice as rapidly among children and adolescents globally compared to adults.

The study analysed the weight and height measurements of over 220 million people across 200 countries between 1990 to 2022.

In 2022, the findings pointed to an estimated 879 million adults living with obesity - 504 million women and 374 million men. The number is four and a half times higher than the figures recorded in 1990.

For children and adolescents, the estimations indicated that 159 million of them were affected in 2022, a significant increase from the 31 million recorded thirty years ago.

"It is very concerning that the epidemic of obesity that was evident among adults in much of the world in 1990 is now mirrored in school-aged children and adolescents," Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London and senior author of the study, said in a statement.

He also highlighted that in parallel, undernutrition was still affecting hundreds of millions, especially in the poorest countries.

Despite a decreasing prevalence, 347 million adults and 185 million children and adolescents were still affected by the condition characterised by a BMI under 18 for adults.

"Undernutrition is responsible for half the deaths of children under 5," the World Health Organization (WHO) noted in its statement.

"To successfully tackle both forms of malnutrition it is vital we significantly improve the availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious foods," Ezzati added.

Call for public health action

Obesity is a chronic and complex condition that can put people at an increased risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases as well as certain cancers.

"This new study highlights the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early life to adulthood, through diet, physical activity, and adequate care, as needed," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General.

While the organisation has set global targets to halt the rise of diabetes and obesity by 2025, the increasing prevalence rate means these objectives are unlikely to be met.

"Importantly, it requires the cooperation of the private sector, which must be accountable for the health impacts of their products," he said.

Dr Guha Pradeepa, one of the study co-authors also pointed out that global issues such as climate change, supply-chain disruptions as well inflation were also risk factors in this public health crisis.

"The knock-on effects of this are insufficient food in some countries and households and shifts to less healthy foods in others. To create a healthier world, we need comprehensive policies to address these challenges," she said.

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