WHO: Over One Billion People Globally Afflicted with Obesity

 WHO: Over One Billion People Globally Afflicted with Obesity

WHO: Over One Billion People Globally Afflicted with Obesity

More than a billion people worldwide are grappling with obesity, a concerning condition associated with numerous serious health issues, according to new estimates from the World Health Organization and an international group of researchers.

Obesity has become more prevalent than being underweight in most nations, including many low and middle-income countries that have historically struggled with malnutrition.

“This is a staggering number of people living with obesity,” said Majid Ezzati, senior author of the paper published in The Lancet on Thursday and a professor at Imperial College London.

The findings, considered among the most authoritative independent estimates, are based on data from over 220 million individuals in more than 190 countries.

While obesity rates are leveling off in wealthier countries, they are rapidly rising elsewhere. Additionally, underweight remains a significant issue in many countries, leading to what’s known as the “double burden” of malnutrition.

“We used to think of obesity as a problem of the rich. It’s now a global issue,” said Francesco Branca, head of nutrition at the WHO, in a press conference.

Obesity rates have more than doubled among adults and quadrupled among children and adolescents aged 5-19 between 1990 and 2022, according to the paper.

Meanwhile, the proportion of underweight individuals has decreased significantly during the same period.

Ezzati expressed concern about the rise in obesity rates among children, which mirrors the trajectory seen in adults.

The increase in the double burden has been particularly significant in some low- and middle-income countries, including parts of the Caribbean and the Middle East.

The updates come from more than 1,500 scientists in the Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factor Collaboration. Implementing measures such as taxes on high sugar products and promoting healthy school meals are crucial in addressing obesity rates, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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