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World Obesity: Half of population overweight by 2035

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A body mass index (BMI) number greater than 25 kg/m2 is considered overweight or fat. According to the World Obesity Atlas, more than 4 billion individuals worldwide—or more than 51% of the world’s population—will be classified as fat by 2035.

Obesity and developing countries

Overweight affects every nation in the globe, but some lower-income nations have seen the most startling increases in their fat numbers over the past ten years.

By 2035, the adult obesity rate in Kiribati, a Pacific Island country that is one of the least developed in this area, is anticipated to be 67%, making it the highest rate in the entire globe. In comparison, 66%, 65%, and 64% of adult populations in Samoa, French Polynesia, and Micronesia are projected to be overweight by 2035, correspondingly.

By 2035, children and teenagers in low-income nations will be most at danger of obesity. Indeed, the Atlas projects that by 2035, the 4% for girls and 2% for males obesity percentages in low-income nations will increase to 13% and 6%, respectively. In low-income countries, obesity currently affects 5% and 14% of adult men and women, respectively. By 2035, this number is predicted to rise to 11% and 26%, respectively.

The prevalence of ultra-processed foods and globalization have made low-income nations more susceptible to overweight. These factors have also increased dependence on plastic-based goods and the production of plastic garbage, which raises the possibility that these people will be subjected to toxins that could cause obesity.


Economic impacts

According to current projections, the global economy will lose out on over USD 4 trillion in possible revenue due to fat and overweight in 2035.

Based on how high BMI values influence the onset of 38 illnesses, the expenses linked with an increasingly overweight populace. Numerous cancers, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver and renal disease are among the serious complications of overweight.

In addition to the expenses involved with managing these health conditions, obesity and its concomitant health conditions are also linked to early retirement, long-term impairment, and unemployment. The World Obesity Atlas assessed the worldwide economic effect of obesity but neglected to account for how these variables might also raise national costs, suggesting that the rising obesity pandemic will likely cost more than current projections have projected.

How COVID-19 made fat worse

National lockdowns during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak severely limited many people’s ability to exit their residences. Dietary and inactive habits that are frequently linked to weight growth increased as a consequence.

Reduced levels of physical exercise and increased everyday intake of packaged foods, especially among toddlers, were among these habits, but they were not the only ones. For instance, a Chinese research with over 10,000 teenagers and young adults showed that the frequency of obesity rose from 10% to 12.5%, while the prevalence of overweight rose from 21% to 25%.

Previous research has repeatedly shown that it is challenging to stop or stop population-level weight increase. Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic’s fast increase in weight growth may result in greater levels of obesity and overweight than current projections have taken into consideration.

Federal and foreign financing that emphasizes the prevention and treatment of obesity continues to be lacking despite the numerous economic and health consequences of an increasingly overweight populace. Therefore, there is a pressing need to boost public funding for connected health objectives, which could take the form of a levy on drinks with added sugar and tackling some of the numerous ambient variables that can also raise the risk of obesity.

The International Classification of Disease (ICD) revised its description of obesity in 2022 in an attempt to spur greater worldwide action against the condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also offered fresh advice on how to control and avoid obesity, which can be the cornerstone of both international and state action plans.

These initiatives are in line with the top priorities that were originally included in the 2020 World Obesity Federation ROOTS plan. In addition to the preceding objectives, this framework stresses the value of spending money on hiring highly qualified healthcare employees who are prepared to avoid, control, and cure obesity. This will help to guarantee that patients at high risk can access high-quality treatment.

The root causes of obesity

The causes of the rise in fat and weight problems are complicated, and so are the remedies.

It’s not nearly as easy as urging people to consume better and move more, according to experts, including the writers of the study.

The World Obesity Federation’s Johanna Ralston stated in a news statement, “Let’s be clear: Individuals dealing with the illness are not to blame for the fiscal effect of obesity. The natural, healthcare, dietary, and support networks that we all require to live joyful, healthy lives were not adequately provided at a high level, according to the statement.

These rises may also be influenced by a number of non-nutritional variables, such as hereditary susceptibility and the rise of “obesogenic pollutants” in our surroundings.

In the study, it is stated that “Chemical pollutants have been found to have endocrine-affecting properties which promote weight gain and obesity.” These chemical contaminants, which are also known as hormone disruptors, have been found in home furniture, makeup, highway litter, and food containers.

Even the changing environment is a factor.

According to the study, “Climate change increases food insecurity.” “Mild or moderate food insecurity is linked to obesity,” whereas “extreme food insecurity has been found to lead to undernutrition.”

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