Half of World’s Population Could Be Obese or Overweight by 2035

A new report from the World Obesity Federation has warned that more than half of the world’s population could be overweight or obese by 2035, with childhood obesity levels predicted to more than double. The fifth annual World Obesity Atlas report estimates that 51% of the global population, or more than 4 billion people, will be obese or overweight in 12 years. Low and middle income countries are amongst those with the fastest rising rates, which could quadruple in high-income countries by 2060 and rise 12 to 25 times in lower resource settings.

The report uses body mass index (BMI) as the metric for determining whether someone is overweight or obese, which is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared.[0] If one's BMI score is higher than 25, it is classified as overweight. If it is higher than 30, it is categorized as obese. It has been demonstrated that obesity raises the chances of developing cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.[1]

The economic impact of overweight and obesity is expected to more than double from £1.64trillion in 2020 to £3.35trillion in 2035, with the cost to society estimated to reach $4 trillion annually by 2035, or 3% of global GDP.[2] Professor Louise Baur, President of the World Obesity Federation, said: “This year's Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future. It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents. 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.”[3]

The federation's report also highlights that many of the world’s poorest countries are facing the sharpest increases in obesity yet are the least well prepared to confront the disease.[4] It calls for comprehensive national action plans to be developed to prevent and treat obesity and support those affected, and warns that without urgent and co-ordinated action, rates of obesity will continue to rise.[1]

0. “More Than Half the World Will Be Overweight or Obese by 2035” Newsmax, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/obesity-overweight-childhood/2023/03/02/id/1110747

1. “More than half of humans on track to be overweight or obese by 2035 – report” The Guardian, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/mar/02/more-than-half-of-humans-on-track-to-be-overweight-or-obese-by-2035-report

2. “Obesity to Cost $4.25 Trillion by 2035 as Half Global Population Seen Overweight” Bloomberg, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-02/global-obesity-costs-are-seen-doubling-to-4-27-trillion-by-2035

3. “Global obesity – half planet could be overweight by 2035” just-food.com, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.just-food.com/news/global-obesity-more-than-half-planet-could-be-overweight-in-next-decade

4. “Child And Adolescent Obesity Rising More Sharply Than In Other Age Groups” Health Policy Watch, 2 Mar. 2023, https://healthpolicy-watch.news/child-and-adolescent-obesity-rising-more-sharply-than-in-other-age-groups

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