The prevalence of obesity has doubled in 73 countries around the world and steadily increased in others since 1980, and health problems resulting from being overweight or obese now affect more than 2 billion people, according to a study by an international group of researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The investigators analyzed data from 195 countries to model trends in overweight and obesity between 1980 and 2015 and quantified the burden of disease related to high body mass index (BMI) according to age, sex, and cause among adults and children.
In 2015, 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were obese worldwide—nearly 10% of the world’s population. Among the 20 most populous countries, the highest level of adult obesity was in Egypt at 35.3% and the highest level of childhood obesity was in the United States at 12.7%. Vietnam had the lowest rate of adult obesity and Bangladesh had the lowest rate of childhood obesity, both at approximately 1%. In many countries, obesity rates among children are rising faster than obesity rates in adults, particularly in China and India, which had the highest numbers of obese children.
The researchers also found that in 2015, a high BMI contributed to 4 million deaths and 120 million disability-adjusted life-years globally. There was a relative increase of 28.3% in the rate of high BMI-related global mortality and a relative increase of 35.8% in the rate of disability-adjusted life-years from 1990 to 2015. Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death related to high BMI.
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