Will Over 20% of the World’s Adults Be Obese by 2025?

It has been widely reported in the last few weeks that over 20% of adults worldwide will be physically obese by 2025 should current trends continue.

Obesity refers to individuals that are extremely overweight to the degree that it is becoming a serious burden on their health, and an immediate threat to their survival.

Reports on at this issue have emanated from a major global study, which indicates that a combination of sedentary lifestyles and declining diets will result in this major health crisis.

The study used data covering 19.2 million adults in 186 countries, which was then used to estimate the number of people falling into different body mass index (BMI) categories across the decades, from 1975 to 2014.

During that time, the average global BMI for men and women rose by the equivalent of a weight gain of 1.5kg per person, per decade.

It is also known that major English-speaking countries,including the UK, the US, Australia, Ireland and Canada, will be among the nations experiencing the highest rises in BMI.

Already, these five countries account for over 25% of the severely obese people on the planet.

In particular, in the United States it is anticipated that around 45% of the population will be obese by 2025.

Yet trends identified by the study indicates that areas of the world that are not currently associated with obesity, such as Central and South America, the Middle East and China, will also become fatter in the coming years.

The study was carried out by researchers from many different institutions, led by Imperial College London, and was funded by The Wellcome Trust and Grand Challenges Canada, and has been published in the Lancet.

In the UK, the average BMI for men rose from 24.1 in 1975 to 27.4 in 2014. For women, BMI went from 23.4 to 27.

The rise for both sexes was about 1kg/m2 each decade, although that slowed to about 0.5kg/m2 from 2005-14. The UK has 6.8 million obese men – the eighth highest country in the world – and 7.7 million obese women – the eleventh highest country in the world.

China and the US now have the most obese people in the world, with the US having the most severely obese people of any country. China also comes second in the number of underweight men and women, after India.

The researchers also concluded that no country has more than a 50% chance of halting the growth of obesity on current trends, and the UK’s chances are between 0% and 25%.

There are two possible criticisms of this study. Firstly, it is known that BMI is not necessarily the best measure of fitness or ideal bodyweight.

And, secondly, the study does comprise valid data, but fails to account for the fact that many trends could influence the figures in the coming years, as people become more aware of the need to eat healthily and exercise.

Nonetheless, at the time of writing it is clear that the planet, never mind merely the UK, faces an absolutely massive obesity epidemic in the coming decade.


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