A recent study reported by The Lancet shows that world obesity is on the rise, and the U.S. is one of the top ten obese countries in the world.
The study showed that in 2014, 266 million men and 375 million women were obese, compared to 34 million men and 71 million women being obese in 1975. The U.S. has been named the “fattest country over the past few years, but the report in The Lancet shows the U.S. as being number two – China was number one in 2014! But still, one out of four men in the U.S. and almost one in five women in the U.S. were severely obese in 2014.
The report supposedly was taken from a pooled analysis of “1698 population-based measurement studies with 19.2 million participants.” Children and adolescents were not included in the study due to periods of rapid growth, and BMI cutoffs are different in children and adolescents than adults.
The study cautioned that if this trend continues, by 2025, the world obesity population will increase to 18 percent in men and over 21 percent in women, and severe obesity will surpass 6 percent in men and 9 percent in women. The study represents the longest and most complete depiction of trends in adult BMI, and was the first time a study of underweight and severe and morbid obesity were studied, both of which are a great interest to both clinical and public health interests.
CNN reported on the study and mentioned that global obesity has tripled among men and doubled in women over the past four decades and simplified the report by saying that “odds are pretty high that your country has more obese people than underweight ones.” The CNN article also includes maps that show the demographics of obesity from 10 percent to 50 percent, and a graph that predicts the obesity populations in some countries in 2025, with the U.S. being number one in obesity.
The Lancet study goes on to address the presence of underweight people in the world as well, which has been mainly overlooked because of the epic obesity problems in the world.
The Lancet study says that the need to “address the remaining underweight problem and by doing so reduce risks to pregnant women and their newborn infants, mortality from tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases, and possibly all-cause mortality, which has a J-shaped association.”
The study said that “to address this problem will require social and food policies that enhance food security in poor households, but also avoid over-consumption of processed carbohydrates and other unhealthy foods.”
In summary, some of the poorest countries are suffering from being underweight, while some of the more wealthier countries, including the U.S., are suffering from obesity.
Health issues plague both sides, with diabetes, high-blood pressure, and other diseases associated with obesity among the obese, and malnutrition, pregnancy risks, low resistance to disease and high mortality rates shadow the underweight population. According to the study, current interventions and policies haven’t been able to stop the rise of obesity in most countries, but measures are being taken to develop new policies.
Another article published in The Lancet describes how governments and stakeholders need to act urgently to decrease the prevalence of obesity. The article, in summary gives some examples of of government regulation, but ultimately concludes that people bear some personal responsibility for their own health, but environmental factors can support or undermine how people act in their own self-interest. For example, today’s food environments (fast-food, chain restaurants) “exploit people’s biological, psychological, social, and economic vulnerabilities, making it easier for them to eat unhealthy foods.” The article states that if the government regulates these “environments,” and industry and society increases efforts, these vicious cycles can be broken.
[Image Credit: kurhan/Shutterstock]