Nearly 30 percent of the world’s population – or 2.1 billion people – is considered obese or overweight, researchers said, while rates among children have increased by a whopping 47 percent in the last 33 years.
Researchers, concluding the most comprehensive study to date on the global epidemic of obesity, found that the number of people suffering from excessive weight broke the scale, ballooning from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013. In the same period, rates of global obesity and excessive weight surged 28 percent in adults and 47 percent in children.
The researchers consulted statistics that spanned 188 nations over the last 33 years.
Putting aside the notion that obesity is predominantly a western phenomenon, nations in the Middle East and North Africa, Central America and the Pacific and Caribbean islands have hit “staggeringly high” obesity rates, according to the study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, reported in the Lancet medical journal.
Among females, researchers showed the biggest obesity increase occurred in Egypt, Honduras, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Among males, the top gainers included New Zealand, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The problem was most severe in the Middle East and North Africa, with more than 58 percent of adult men and 65 percent of adult women overweight or obese.
“Two-thirds of the obese population actually resides in developing countries,” said Marie Ng, a global health professor who was one of the contributors to the study.