Study Finds: More Than 10 Percent of World’s Population Is Obese
More than 10 percent of the world’s population is now obese, a marked rise over the last 30 years that is leading to widespread health problems and millions of premature deaths, according to a new study, the most comprehensive research done on the subject.
Published Monday in The New England Journal of Medicine, the study showed that the problem had swept the globe, including regions that have historically had food shortages, like Africa.
The study defined obese as a body mass index of 30 or higher and overweight as a B.M.I. from 25 to 29. By those measures, nearly 604 million adults worldwide are obese and 108 million children, the authors reported. Obesity rates among children are rising faster in many countries than among adults.
No country in the globe has reduced overweight or obesity levels. This is astounding given the huge health and economic costs linked with overweight and obesity.”
The study largely did not go deeply into the causes of obesity, but the authors said the growing accessibility of inexpensive, nutrient-poor packaged foods was probably a major factor and the general slowdown in physical activity was probably not.
Here is a BMI calculator if you want to see where you fall.
Just so you don’t feel too bad if your BMI is hovering at 30 or above, there is the Obesity Paradox hypothesis which holds that obesity (and high cholesterol) may, counterintuitively, be protective and associated with greater survival in certain groups of people, such as very elderly individuals or those with certain chronic diseases. It further postulates that normal to low body mass index or normal values of cholesterol may be detrimental and associated with higher mortality in asymptomatic people.