Almost a quarter of the global population will be obese by 2045; researchers recently said and warned of a mounting medical bill worldwide.
If current trends continue, some 22% of people in the world will be obese by 2045, up from 14% in 2017, according to research presented at the last European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.
One in eight people, up from one in 11, will have type 2 diabetes—a form of the disease that generally hits in adulthood as a result of being overweight.
In 2016, more than 1.9bn adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650mn were obese.
Some 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
Most of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
Nearly 41mn children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2016.
Over 340mn children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
Already, health systems are spending “huge sums just to treat diabetes,” the researchers said.
Researcher Alan Moses of a Danish healthcare firm analysed population data for all countries in the world, obtained from a World Health Organisation database.
They divided the population of each country into age groups, and further into body mass index (BMI) categories, and looked at trends to make projections.
BMI is a ratio of height to weight used to divide people into low- to high-risk categories for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
A person with a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight, and 30 or higher obese.
A healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9.
The researchers said turning the tide on obesity would require “aggressive and co-ordinated action”.
Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. Globally, there are more people who are obese than underweight – this occurs in every region except parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.
Overweight and obesity, as well as their related non-communicable diseases, are largely preventable, WHO points out.
Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices, by making the choice of healthier foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice, and therefore preventing overweight and obesity.
At the individual level, people can limit energy intake from total fats and sugars; increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes spread through the week for adults).
Individual responsibility can only have its full effect where people have access to a healthy lifestyle.
WHO stressed that at the societal level it is important to support individuals in following the recommendations given, through sustained implementation of evidence and population based policies that make regular physical activity and healthier dietary choices available, affordable and easily accessible to everyone, particularly to the poorest.
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