OH! Magazine - Australian Version August 2016 - Page 12

( Nutrition ) THE WORLD'S OBESITY EPIDEMIC Dr Joanna shares the alarming statistics regarding obesity levels around the world. n the past 40 years, there has been a startling increase in the number of obese people worldwide – rising from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014, according to the most comprehensive analysis of trends in body mass index (BMI) to date, published in The Lancet. I Did you know... • by 2025, around a fifth of adults worldwide will be obese; and • over a third of UK men and women, and over 40 per cent of US men and women will be obese by 2025. The age-corrected proportion of obese men has more than tripled (3.2 per cent to 10.8 per cent), and the proportion of obese women has more than doubled (6.4 per cent to 14.9 per cent) since 1975. At the same time, the proportion of underweight people fell more modestly – by around a third in both men (13.8 per cent to 8.8 per cent) and women (14.6 per cent to 9.7 per cent). Over the past four decades, the average age-corrected BMI has increased from 21.7kg/ m² to 24.2 kg/m² in men, and from 22.1kg/m² to 24.4 kg/m² in women, which is equivalent to the world’s population becoming 1.5kg heavier each decade (on average). If the rate of obesity continues at this pace, by 2025 18 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women worldwide will be obese, and more 12 AUGUST 2016 (OH! MAGAZINE) than 6 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women will be severely obese (35kg/m² or greater). However, excessively low body weight remains a serious public health issue in the world’s poorest regions, and the authors warn that global trends in rising obesity should not overshadow the continuing underweight problem in these poor nations. For example, in south Asia almost a quarter of the population are still underweight, and in central and east Africa levels of underweight still remain higher than 12 per cent in women and 15 per cent in men. Senior author Professor Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London (UK) explains, saying 'Over the past 40 years we have changed from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight'. Professor Ezzati adds, 'If present trends continue, not only will the world not meet the obesity target of halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity at its 2010 level by 2025, but more women will be severely obese than underweight by 2025. To avoid an epidemic of severe obesity, new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated, including smart food policies and improved health-care training.' The findings come from a comprehensive new analysis of the global, regional, and national