World Obese Population: New Study Claims 641 Million People Are Overweight

The world obese problem is tipping the scales with 641 million people now classified as obese. There are now more obese people in the world than those who are underweight. In order to be classified as obese, a person must have a BMI of 25 or greater. The study found that a boom in the world obese problem occurred over the last 40 years when 105 million people in the population found themselves in the obese category. Majid Ezzati, a professor at the school of public health at Imperial College London. commented on the world obese problem.

“Our research has shown that over 40 years we have transitioned from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight. Although it is reassuring that the number of underweight individuals has decreased over the last four decades, global obesity has reached crisis point. We hope these findings create an imperative to shift responsibility from the individual to governments and to develop and implement policies to address obesity. For instance, unless we make healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables affordable for everyone and increase the price of unhealthy processed foods, the situation is unlikely to change.”

The obese research published in The Lancet studied the population in 186 countries and compared data from 1975 to 2014. In 1975, 3.2 percent of men and 6.4 percent of women were considered obese. Those numbers increased substantially in 2014. In men, 10.8 percent (266 million) were now considered obese along with 14.9 percent (375 million) of women. On the opposite side of the scale, 462 million people were considered to be underweight.

Obese Graph
[Image Via The Lancet]
The obese study also broke down some of the results based on different countries. China and the United States have the largest population of obese men and women. Women in the United Kingdom have been ranked to have the third largest BMI in Europe. The men in the United Kingdom have the 10th highest BMI in Europe. Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States are home to 118 million obese people. The countries of India and Bangladesh are two countries in the world who have problems with underweight people.

From 1975 to 2014, the number of men who are underweight dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent. In women, the number dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent. Professor George Davey Smith from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol weighed in on the obese study.

“A focus on obesity at the expense of recognition of the substantial remaining burden of under-nutrition threatens to divert resources away from disorders that affect the poor to those that are more likely to affect the wealthier in low income countries.”

Fast Food And Obesity
[Photo Illustration by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]
What can be done to fix the obesity problem? Jamie Blackshaw, National lead for Obesity and Healthy Weight, Public Health England stated that many things need to happen in order to lower the number of obese people in the world.

“People who are overweight and obese suffer life-changing consequences and it costs the NHS more than £6 billion a year. The causes of obesity are complex and the environment we live in encourages poor diets and low levels of physical activity. There is no single solution, we have to address the many factors that drive up obesity levels. We all – government, industry, local authorities and the public – have a role to play in that. That’s why we’re supporting the government to develop its childhood obesity strategy, we’re running the world’s first national diabetes prevention programme and we’re currently piloting, with local councils and Leeds Beckett University, a whole systems approach to tackling obesity.”

Are you surprised at the number of obese people in the world?

[Image Via AP Photo/Fernando Vergara]