Global obesity rates expected to soar in next decade

“One-fifth of adults worldwide will be obese by 2025,” The Guardian reports, while The Sun warns that the “UK’s population to be fattest in Europe” by the same date. These are just some of the conclusions of a major modelling study of global obesity trends.

The study used data covering 19.2 million adults in 186 countries, which was then used to estimate the number of people falling into different body mass index (BMI) categories across the decades, from 1975 to 2014. During that time, the average global BMI for men and women rose by the equivalent of a weight gain of 1.5kg per person, per decade.

High-income English-speaking countries, including the UK, the US, Australia, Ireland and Canada, accounted for some of the biggest rises in BMI. These countries account for more than a quarter of severely obese people in the world.

Interestingly – if worryingly – parts of the world not normally associated with obesity, such as Central and South America, the Middle East and China, are also expected to develop high rates of obesity in the future.

In sharp contrast, the spectre of malnutrition doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Parts of Africa and south Asia still have high rates of people who are underweight: about a quarter of women living in south Asia are underweight. This trend is not expected to change.

The scientists who compiled the data warned that the chances of meeting the global target to halt the rise in obesity were “virtually zero”.


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