Half of world on track to be overweight by 2035
Posted on the 3rd March 2023
Global obesity will impact more than 50 per cent of the population in just over a decade.
More than half the world's population will be classed as obese or overweight by 2035 if action is not taken, according to a new study.
The World Obesity Federation has warned that more than four billion people will be affected within the next 12 years, with rates rising fastest among those living in low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia.
The World Obesity Atlas 2023 predicts that the global economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach $4.32 trillion annually by 2035 if prevention and treatment measures do not improve.
The figure represents around 3 per cent of the global GDP and is comparable with the impact of COVID-19 in 2020.
The report highlights the rising rates of obesity among children and teenagers, with rates expected to double from 2020 levels among both boys and girls.
Childhood obesity is rising particularly fast with rates expected to double among boys by 2035 to 208 million and to increase by 125 per cent among girls to 175 million.
Meanwhile, nine of the 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity globally are low or lower-middle-income states in Africa and Asia.
Reasons for the increase in global obesity include trends in dietary preferences towards more highly processed foods, greater levels of sedentary behaviour, weaker policies to control food supply and marketing, and less well-resourced healthcare services to assist in weight management and health education.
The authors of the report are now emphasising the importance of developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and support people affected by the disease.
The study also acknowledges the impact of climate change, COVID-19 restrictions, new pandemics, and chemical pollutants on overweight and obesity and warns that without ambitious and coordinated action to address systemic issues, obesity rates could rise still further.
The report uses body mass index (BMI) which is calculated by dividing an adult's weight by the square of their height, to make its assessments.
While this method has been criticized by some for not making allowances for those with athletically muscular physiques, it is regarded by many as the quickest and easiest way of working out if someone is in the healthy weight category, or not.