Washington, May 29 (IANS) Revealing how the obesity epidemic has spread globally, an alarming study has said that 2.1 billion – nearly 30 percent of the world’s population – people are either obese or overweight.
India comes a shocking third in the top-10 country club that has over 50 percent of the world’s 671 million obese.
Looking at individual countries, the highest proportion of the world’s obese people – 13 percent – live in the US.
China and India together represent 15 percent of the world’s obese population.
The study found that the number of overweight and obese individuals globally increased from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013.
“In the last three decades, not one country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates. We expect obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income countries in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this public health crisis,” warned Christopher Murray, director of Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at University of Washington.
In a first-of-its-kind analysis of trend data from 188 countries, the study, published in The Lancet, claimed that the rise in global obesity rates over the last three decades has been substantial and widespread – presenting a major public health epidemic in both the developed and the developing world.
In developed countries, men had higher rates of overweight and obesity while women in developing countries exhibited higher rates.
Also in developed countries, the peak of obesity rates is moving to younger ages.
Between 1980 and 2013, the prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents increased by nearly 50 percent.
In 2013, more than 22 percent of girls and nearly 24 percent of boys living in developed countries were found to be overweight or obese.
“We know that there are severe downstream health effects from childhood obesity, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many cancers. We need to be thinking now about how to turn this trend around,” said Marie Ng, an assistant professor of global health at IHME.
More than 50 percent of the world’s 671 million obese live in 10 countries – US, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia – the study noted.
Over the 33-year period of research, several countries in the Middle East showed the largest increase in obesity globally. These countries include Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait.
Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight-to-height ratio, greater than or equal to 25 and lower than 30, while obesity is defined as having a BMI equal to or greater than 30.