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2b People in the World Obese
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2b People in the World Obese

Today, 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the world’s population – are either obese or overweight, says a first-of-its kind analysis of data from 188 countries. The rise in global obesity rates over the last three decades has been substantial and widespread, presenting a major public health epidemic in both the developed and the developing world.
Published in The Lancet last month, the study, “Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013,” was conducted by an international consortium of researchers led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight-to-height ratio, greater than or equal to 25 and lower than 30, while obesity is defined as having a BMI equal to or greater than 30, reports healthdata.org.
Over the course of the study, rates of overweight and obesity among adults increased for both men (from 29% to 37%) and women (from 30% to 38%). In developed countries, men had higher rates of overweight and obesity, while women in developing countries exhibited higher rates. Also in developed countries, the peak of obesity rates is moving to younger ages.
“Obesity is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of IHME and a co-founder of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.
The highest proportion of the world’s obese people (13%) lives in the United States. China and India together represent 15% of the world’s obese population. Rates in the study were age-standardized, meaning they were adjusted for differences in population size and ages over time and across countries.
Between 1980 and 2013, the prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents increased by nearly 50%. In 2013, more than 22% of girls and nearly 24% of boys living in developed countries were found to be obese. In the developing world, nearly 13% of boys and more than 13% of girls are obese. Particularly high rates of child and adolescent obesity were seen in Middle East and North African countries, notably among girls.
“The rise in obesity among children is especially troubling in so many low and middle-income countries,” said Marie Ng, the paper’s lead author. “We know that there are severe downstream health effects from childhood obesity, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many cancers.”
More than 50% of the world’s 671 million obese live in 10 countries with the highest in the US, followed by China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait were among the Middle East countries with the largest increases in obesity globally.

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