The World needs a bigger belt

Edited by Nelly T.

Studies of the trends of adult body-mass catalogued in 200 countries over the last 40 years reveal that the amount of overweight people in the world now outnumber the underweight people.


Concurring with a significant study available in the medical journal Lancet, the percentage of obese men has now tripled (3.2% to 10.8%) and obese women has more than doubled (6.4% to 14.9%).


The number of obese in 1975 was 105 million that number has now risen to 641 million. This also seems to have impacted the proportion of underweight individuals, which has fallen by around a third in both men (13.8% to 8.8%) and women (14.6% to 9.7%).


Senior author Professor Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London said “Over the past 40 years, we have changed from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight.”


The Professor Ezzati continues to warn the public about the risks involved in ignoring this problem saying that if the problem was not met with resistance soon by 2025 the number of severely overweight women will outnumber the underweight.


The authors amended that the underweight problems in poorer countries should not be overshadowed by the rising obesity trends. In east and central Africa more than 12% of women and 15% of men are underweight. The situation in South Asia is not fairing any better, as nearly a quarter of the population are still underweight.


Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and the US hold almost a fifth of the world’s obese adults, around 118 million of them.


27% of the Australian population is obese.


Research director of the Health and Nutrition Program at CSIRO, Manny Noakes, declares the numbers alarming and says they impact not only on increasing chronic diseases but also on the environment.


“Heavier populations consume more fuels as well as food which is not sustainable,” said Professor Noakes.


“The lost cost of junk foods and beverages is a contributor. Appropriate food policies and universal nutrition and healthy weight programs particularly targeting preconception are urgently needed.”