There are now more adults in the world classified as obese than underweight, a major study has suggested.
The research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and published in The Lancet, compared body mass index (BMI) among almost 20 million adult men and women from 1975 to 2014.
It found obesity in men has tripled and more than doubled in women.
Lead author Prof Majid Ezzat said it was an “epidemic of severe obesity” and urged governments to act.
The study, which pooled data from adults in 186 countries, found that the number of obese people worldwide had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014.
Meanwhile the number of underweight people had risen from 330 million to 462 million over the same period.
I – Word Understanding
Epidemic – a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time
II – Have Your Say
The research also found:
• More obese men and women now live in China and the USA than in any other country
• Women in the UK have the third highest BMI in Europe and the 10th highest for men
• Almost a fifth of the world’s obese adults – 118 million – live in only six high-income English-speaking countries – Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and the US
• By 2025, the UK is projected to have the highest levels of obese women in Europe (38%), followed by Republic of Ireland (37%) and Malta (34%)
• Being underweight remains a significant health problem in countries such as India and Bangladesh
Other statistics from the study include:
• China has the largest number of obese people in the world with 43.2 million men and 46.4 million women
• The US has 41.7 million obese men and 46.1 million obese women
• In comparison in the UK the study found 6.8 million obese men in 2014, and 7.7 million obese women