12 January - 20 June 2016

Quantitative data on the global rise in obesity

04 June 14

The world is putting on weight. With obesity a major global health challenge - perhaps even a pandemic - it is becoming increasingly important to quantify the health effects of the disease so that decision-makers are informed by accurate and up-to-date information.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation conducted a systematic analysis to estimate global trends in adult and childhood overweight and obesity over the years 1980 -2013, the findings of which were published in The Lancet in May this year. Investigators looked at data from surveys, reports and 1769 published studies, grouping it by region, country, age, sex and year.

The key findings of the analysis were that in the past 33 years the world percentage of men with body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m2 or greater increased from 28.8% to 36.9%; in women the change was from 29.8% to 38.0%. In 2013, as many as 23.8 % of boys and 22.6% of girls in developed countries were overweight or obese. In developing countries, meanwhile, the increase in the proportion of children and adolescents who were overweight or obese was from 8.1% to 12.9% in boys and from 8.4% to 13.4% in girls. Almost two in three of the world's obese people now live in developing countries, with the prevalence of adult obesity in some (in particular island nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean, countries in the Middle East and Central America) reaching 50% and higher.

One positive finding was that since 2006 the increase in adult obesity is slowing down, though still, in 2013, more than half of the UK's adult population was overweight or obese (66.6% of men and 57.2% of women).

As a result of increasing prevalence of obesity and its associated health risks (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and chronic kidney disease) the Member States of WHO in 2013 introduced a target to stop the rise in obesity by 2025. In order to achieve the target, global leadership is needed to help countries to tackle major determinants of obesity: excessive calorie intake, physical inactivity, changes in the gut microbiome and active promotion of food consumption by industry. The researchers involved in this study also note that more complex measurement strategies are needed to strengthen surveillance of obesity prevalence in populations. [BBC, Guardian, ScienceDaily]

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry