Life Wellbeing One-third of the world’s population is overweight or obese: study

One-third of the world’s population is overweight or obese: study

overweight statistics
More than two billion people across the world are either overweight or obese. Photo: Getty
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Almost one-third of the world’s population is overweight or obese new research shows weight-related health problems are causing more deaths than ever.

The study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Monday discovered a “global and disturbing global public health crisis”, with 2.2 billion people classified as overweight while 705.4 million of those were classed as obese, including 101.7 million children and 603.7 million adults.

Among the 20 most populous countries, the highest level of adult obesity was observed in Egypt with 35 per cent, and the highest level of childhood obesity was in the United States with 12.7 per cent.

In Australia, almost 30 per cent of adults and 1 per cent of children are obese, the data states.

The study looked at the prevalence of obesity in children and adults between 1980 and 2015 and the associated health risks according to their Body Mass Index (BMI).

Prevalence of obesity
Prevalence of obesity according to age group. Photo: The New England Journal of Medicine

Experts regarded the findings as “alarming” with the presence of obesity doubling in 70 countries since 1980.

BMI is the measure of weight in kilograms divided by a person’s height in metres squared. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is classified as overweight while over 30 is deemed obese.

“The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide,” the study stated.

“Epidemiologic studies have identified high body-mass index as a risk factor for an expanding set of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, many cancers, and an array of musculoskeletal disorders.”

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and University of South Australia professor of exercise science Kevin Norton said excess weight was a greater problem than obesity in Australia – Australians are almost double the global overweight average of 39 per cent.

According to AIHW statistics, 63 per cent of Australians including 65 per cent of men and 55 per cent of women are overweight or obese.

Results from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey show that one quarter (25 per cent) of Australian children aged 2-17 are overweight or obese.

“We have [nearly] double the global average. For every age group, not one is under the overweight category,” Professor Norton told The New Daily.

“We are fat basically. We have a problem.”

And according to the The New England Journal of Medicine research, the results are having serious implications on people’s health with approximately four million deaths attributed to additional body weight in 2015.

“What we’re seeing with all these weight issues is the prevalence of things like diabetes and heart disease, but there are a huge amount of other implications. It is alarming,” Professor Norton said.

“For overweight and obese people, there is pretty strong evidence of accelerated health implications.”

He listed orthopaedic, biomechanic, circulation and respiratory issues as common health repercussions when having a BMI over 28.

“As we all get fatter and fatter it begins to feel normal but the body is not designed to have this additional weight 24/7,” he said.

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