Global Obesity Crisis: Over a Billion People Affected as Health Experts Sound the Alarm

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

Apr.07 - 2024 5:11 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

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Obesity has become the most prevalent form of malnutrition across the globe, with rates soaring among men, women, children, and teenagers since 1990.

As written by Semana.

This alarming trend was highlighted in a recent study published in The Lancet, revealing that obesity rates in adult men have tripled, while rates in women have doubled over the same period. Furthermore, obesity rates among children and adolescents have quadrupled. By 2022, nearly 880 million adults and almost 160 million children were living with obesity.

The study's findings were shared by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, a global network of health scientists providing and evaluating data on major risk factors for all countries, in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

Peter Katzmarzyk, Associate Executive Director of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, USA, contributed to the publication.

Researchers from the network reviewed body mass index data from over 3,600 studies conducted between 1990 and 2022, assessing malnutrition rates, whether due to obesity or underweight, across all countries and how these rates have changed over the years.

"The current rates of obesity seem overwhelming, but the trend has been heading in this direction for over three decades. With more than a billion people living with obesity, it's crucial that we don't discuss obesity in isolation. We know that obesity can directly lead to comorbidities such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obstructive sleep apnea. By better understanding the root causes of obesity, we can identify ways to prevent, treat, or even reverse its adverse effects," Katzmarzyk explained.

In the study, the United States ranked tenth worldwide in the prevalence of obesity among men, with the percentage increasing from 17% in 1990 to 42% in 2022.

For women, the obesity rate increased from 21% in 1990 to 44% in 2022, placing the US 36th globally. Among children, the obesity rate rose from 11.5% in 1990 to 22% in 2022, ranking the US 26th worldwide.

The findings underscore the prevalence of obesity in detail, as in 2020, 38% of adults in Louisiana faced obesity, according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

"These study results emphatically affirm the value of Pennington Biomedical's mission," stated John Kirwan, Executive Director of Pennington Biomedical. "With the rising prevalence of obesity over the decades, we remain steadfast in our commitment to uncovering the triggers of obesity and improving the health of all people."

During the same period, rates of children, teenagers, and adults who are underweight have decreased globally, and in some African countries, the rate of underweight men has drastically reduced. Both obesity and underweight are forms of malnutrition, with obesity rates exceeding those of underweight children in two-thirds of the world's countries.

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