OTTAWA – The number of obese has more than doubled in 73 countries since 1980 and has continued to grow in others; This results in a large increase in diseases related to overweight, reveals a new study.
In 2015, 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were living with obesity worldwide, the authors of this work, published in the American Journal of Medicine and presented at a conference in Stockholm.
By 2015, overweight and obesity affected a total of 2.2 billion people. Specifically, obesity affects nearly 5% of children and 12% of adults globally.
According to the study, the prevalence of obesity is generally higher in women than in men, regardless of age group.
Obesity affects women 60 to 64 years of age more, while for men the observed peak is between 50 and 54 years of age.
Although the prevalence of obesity is lower in children than in adults, its increase has been faster in children over the last 35 years, researchers said.
Between 1980 and 2015, obesity progressed equally among boys and girls, across all age groups.
BMI, an important indicator
To conduct their study, researchers examined available data on body mass index (BMI) of 195 countries.
Studies show that a high BMI can act as an important risk factor in the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer or kidney failure.
BMI for Dummies
The body mass index is calculated by taking the weight (in kilograms) divided by the size (in meter) squared. Based on this index, the healthy weight is between 18.5 and 25.
BMI less than 18.5 indicates underweight
A BMI between 25 and 30 is synonymous with overweight.
A BMI of more than 30 corresponds to obesity.
It should be noted that obesity is declined in classes (I, II, II) and that the higher the class, the greater the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In addition, if the emphasis is generally on people with a high BMI, it should be understood that weight loss can also cause significant health problems, some of which can lead to death.
Finally, the BMI as the only reference for calculating the healthy weight is increasingly contested because it does not measure the fat whose density differs from that of the muscles or its distribution.
A global crisis
The researchers determined that the excess weight was linked to nearly 4 million deaths worldwide in 2015. It was also linked to more than 120 million cases of loss of quality of life for the same period.
Nearly 70% of deaths associated with high BMI are due to cardiovascular disease and, in 60% of cases, the person was obese.
According to the authors of the study, these results show “a growing and troubling public health crisis at the global level”.
People who do not pay attention to weight gain do so at their own risk: they may have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
Dr. Christopher Murray, co-authors of the study
According to the study, the United States (79.4 million) and China (57.3 million) have the highest number of obese adults in 2015. It is India (15.3 million) and China (14.4 million) had the highest number of obese children.
Egypt is the country where adults are most at risk of becoming obese; The prevalence of obesity is 35%. For children, the risks are higher in the United States.
The lowest incidence of adult obesity was found in Bangladesh and Vietnam with only 1%.
With this study, the researchers wanted to have a better idea of the factors responsible for the progression of obesity at the global level.
They found that the correlation between a high BMI and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease varies greatly from country to country, due in particular to differences in socio-economic development.
The researchers used an index, the SDI, which allows countries to be classified by taking these differences into account. The SDI is based on the annual average per capita income, the last level of education among people over 15 and the fertility rate in the population.
Experts recalled that over the past decades many policies based on scientific studies have been developed to limit the progression of obesity worldwide.
They cite, among other things, the increase in taxes on junk food, as well as tougher regulations on the promotion of those products.
But the authors of the study state that no country has managed to curb the phenomenon significantly because most of the time, policies are developed without taking into account the realities of each country.
This situation is particularly true when we speak of developing countries. In these countries, most nutrition-related programs focus on food security, without necessarily focusing on promoting healthy eating.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Edward Gregg and Dr. Jonathan Shaw, epidemiologists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that “the most worrying figure is the tripling of obesity Among children and young adults in developing and middle-income countries, such as China, Brazil and Indonesia “.
Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.