Obesity affects 641 million adults worldwide

13% of adults are obese worldwide. A figure that could reach 20% by 2025, warn researchers in a new study published on Friday that points out the extent of this health catastrophe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI, which is the ratio between weight and height) over 30 kg / m2. Beyond 35, it is called severe obesity. In 40 years, the average BMI is, according to the study, increased from 21.7 to 24.2 for men and from 22.1 to 24.4 in adult women, a weight gain of 1.5 kg every 10 years on average.

“A big impact in terms of health”

If policies against obesity are not implemented “rapidly” in the world, “medical consequences of unknown magnitude” is expected, warns Professor Majid Ezzati of the Imperial College of London, coordinated the study published in the British medical journal the Lancet.

Obesity “has a big impact in terms of health, promoting cardiovascular diseases, cancers, but also other conditions such as osteoarthritis,” says for his part Dr Pierre Azam, president of the French Observatory obesity.

Six times more obese worldwide

Based on the data obtained from 19 million people in 186 countries, the study estimates the number of adults obese in 2014 to 641 million (375 million women and 266 million men), or 13% of the adult world population. In 1975, there were only 105 million.

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“If the rise in obesity continues unabated, in 2025 about one-fifth of men (18%) and women (21%) will be obese in the world and 6% of men and 9% of women will be achieved severe obesity, “the authors are concerned. The percentage of obese has tripled in men from 3.2% in 1975 to 10.8% in 2014 and more than doubled among women (from 6.4% to 14.9%), with disparities very important country to country.

Polynesia strongly affected

Obesity has become “a major public health problem” in many parts of middle income (Pacific, Middle East, North Africa and some states of South America or the Caribbean), notes the study.

If BMI remained broadly stable between 1975 and 2014 in Japanese women and most European women, the six countries rich English (US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand) have results far more disturbing. They now house a fifth of obese adults worldwide (or 118 million people), and 27% of severe obese (50 million).

The real success comes to Polynesia and Micronesia, Pacific Islands where 38% of men and half of adult women are obese.

For Dr. Adam, the obesity epidemic is mainly explained by the globalization of ‘bad eating habits “that may be difficult to control” because of the agrifood lobbies. ” It also points the finger food “taken in a hurry, at any time, according to his desires” in Anglo-Saxon countries that opposed the still living tradition of communal meals in Latin countries where obesity is increasing less rapidly.

The sub-weight, a major problem for some countries

Conversely, underweight – or underweight – (BMI less than 18.5) related to malnutrition remains a major problem in other parts of the world like South Asia or certain states of Africa. According to the study, nearly a quarter of the population was underweight in South Asia in 2014, against 12% to 15% of the population in central and eastern Africa.

Timor-Leste (official name of East Timor), Ethiopia and Eritrea had the lowest average BMI in the world in 2014, around 20. The sub-weight is held responsible for increased mortality women and very young children before and after birth, and increases the risk of death due to infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

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