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Study: Obesity ‘epidemic’ on the rise, more than 1 billion afflicted around the world

According to a recent study published by the Lancet medical journal, the number of individuals afflicted with obesity has surged more than fourfold since 1990. The study, conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), reveals that over one billion people worldwide are grappling with obesity.

Described as an “epidemic,” the study, released ahead of World Obesity Day (Mar 4), underscores the disproportionate impact of obesity on poorer nations. It also highlights the alarming rate at which obesity is escalating among children and adolescents, outpacing its growth among adults. Despite awareness among medical professionals of the rapid rise in obesity figures, surpassing the one billion mark was not anticipated until 2030.

Francesco Branca, WHO’s director of nutrition for health, expressed astonishment at the accelerated pace, stating, “It has come much earlier than we have anticipated,” as quoted by AFP.

To arrive at their estimations, experts, as detailed by the Lancet, scrutinized weight and height data from over 220 million individuals across more than 190 countries. Their analysis revealed that an estimated 504 million adult women, 374 million men, and 159 million children were grappling with obesity in 2022. This marks a triple increase among men and a twofold increase among women compared to 1990, while children experienced a fivefold surge, rising from 31 million.

Experts attribute this surge in obesity to poor dietary habits, emphasizing the detrimental impact of rapid changes in food systems. They assert that the swift transformation of food systems has not been conducive to better health outcomes.


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