Research shows that over a billion people worldwide are obese

More than 1 billion people worldwide now suffer from obesity, with rates quadrupling among children over 32 years, new research shows.

Analysis of the weight and height measurements of more than 220 million people from more than 190 countries shows how body mass index (BMI) has changed around the world between 1990 and 2022.

Approximately 1,500 researchers contributed to the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration’s research with the World Health Organization (WHO). Published in the LancetThe study found that obesity rates among children quadrupled over the period and doubled among adults.

For girls worldwide, the obesity rate has risen from 1.7% of the world’s population in 1990 to 6.9% in 2022. For boys, the increase was from 2.1% to 9.3% over the same period.

Obesity in adults is defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m22.

For women, the global obesity rate rose from 8.8% to 18.5% over the same period, and for men from 4.8% to 14%. At the same time, the number of underweight people fell in both children and adults, meaning obesity is the most common form of malnutrition in many countries around the world.

The share of the world’s children and adolescents who were underweight fell by about a fifth in girls and more than a third in boys, while the share of the world’s adults who were underweight fell by more than half dropped.

In total, 880 million adults and 159 million children were living with obesity in 2022. Tonga, American Samoa and Nauru were the countries with the highest obesity rates at over 60%.

Britain ranks 87th highest in the world for obesity rates for women, and 55th for men.

Prof. Majid Ezzati, senior author of the study, said it was “very concerning” that the epidemic of obesity seen in much of the world among adults in 1990 is now being reflected in school-age children and adolescents.

He said: “At the same time, hundreds of millions of people continue to be affected by malnutrition, especially in some of the poorest parts of the world. To successfully tackle both forms of malnutrition, it is critical that we significantly improve the availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious food.”

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “Getting back on track to meet global obesity targets will require the work of governments and communities, supported by evidence-based policies from the WHO and national public health authorities.

“Importantly, this requires the cooperation of the private sector, which must be responsible for the health effects of their products.”

Professor Simon Kenny, NHS England national clinical director for children and young people, said: “These figures will be as alarming for parents as they are for the NHS.

“Obesity affects every human organ system and so can have a major impact on a child’s life at a young age, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, mental health problems and many other diseases, which can lead to shorter and more unhappy lives. .

“The NHS is committed to helping as many young people and families affected by extreme weight problems as possible through our new network of 30 specialist clinics, offering tailored packages of physical, psychological and social support – but the NHS can solve this problem don’t just solve it. and continued collective action from industry and wider society is needed if we are to avoid a ticking health time bomb for the future.”