More Than Half of World Will Be Overweight by 2035

Over 4 billion people will either be overweight or have obesity within 12 years if prevention, treatment, and support do not improve, according to a global study.

One in four people, or over 1.5 billion adults and nearly 400 million children, will be living with obesity by 2035 if the current trend continues, according to the World Obesity Atlas 2023, published by World Obesity Federation.

The rates of obesity are predicted to rise more rapidly among children than adults and to double among boys to 208 million (a 100% increase). The growth may be even more significant among girls, with rates more than doubling to 175 million (125% increase).

Obesity is characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat and is a serious chronic condition associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, several cancers, and increased mortality. One of the most common tools to determine whether a person has obesity is body mass index (BMI). Individuals with BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight, while people with obesity have a BMI of 30 and greater.

The report predicts that the global economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach $4.32 trillion, accounting for almost 3% of global GDP, comparable with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the report's authors emphasize that measuring economic impact "is in no way a reflection of blame on people living with obesity."

"Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation. That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity, and actively involving young people in the solutions. If we act together now, we have the opportunity to help billions of people in the future," says Professor Louise Baur, President of the World Obesity Federation.

While obesity is generally considered to be a problem in high-income countries, the report reveals that the rates are most rapidly rising in low and lower-middle-income countries, which are often "the least able to respond to obesity and its consequences."

About 58 million Americans will have obesity by 2035, compared to 41.9% in 2020, the study predicts, with overweight and obesity economic impact increasing to 4% of the national GDP. Nonetheless, the United States ranks "fairly good" (41 out of 183) in the global preparedness index.

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