The Washington Post

By 2035, about 51 percent of Earth’s population could be overweight or obese, nonprofit says


More than half of the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2035 without significan­t action, according to a report.

The World Obesity Federation’s 2023 atlas predicts that 51 percent of the world, or more than 4 billion people, will be obese or overweight within the next 12 years.

Rates of obesity are rising quickly among children and in lower-income countries, the report said.

Describing the data as a “clear warning,” Louise Baur, president of the nonprofit organizati­on, said policymake­rs needed to act now to prevent the situation worsening.

“It is particular­ly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescent­s,” she said in a statement.

“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.”

The report found that childhood obesity could more than double from 2020 levels, to 208 million boys and 175 million girls by 2035.

The cost to society is significan­t as a result of the health conditions linked to being overweight, the federation said — more than $4 trillion annually by 2035, or 3 percent of global gross domestic product.

The authors said they were not blaming individual­s but calling for a focus on the societal, environmen­tal and biological factors involved in the conditions.

The report uses body mass index (BMI) for its assessment­s, a number calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared. In line with the World Health Organizati­on’s guidelines, a BMI score over 25 is overweight and over 30 is obese.

In 2020, 2.6 billion people fell into these categories, or 38 percent of the world’s population.

The report also found that almost all of the countries expected to see the greatest increases in obesity in the coming years are low- or middle-income countries in Asia and Africa.

The data will be presented to United Nations policymake­rs and member states this week.

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