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The world is getting heavier

Comment by Susana Sans, EACPR Prevention, Epidemiology and Population Science Section


In a remarkable outstanding worldwide collaboration joining together the effort of 200 countries and pooling data of 1698 population surveys and 19.2 million participants, this study evidenced an enormous increase in world’s population mean body mass index (BMI) and prevalence of obesity.

From 1975 to 2014 global mean BMI increased from 21.7 Kg/m² to 24.2 Kg/m² in men and from 22.1 Kg/m² to 24.4 Kg/m²  in women. This translates into a global prevalence of obesity growing from 3.2% to 10.8% in men and from 6.4% to 14.9% in women, the largest increases being observed in Micronesia and Polynesia. During the same period, the prevalence of underweight, indicating undernutrition, went down, although it still remains a problem in South Asia and parts of Africa.

The authors conclude that, if current post-2000 trends continue, the chances of meeting the global obesity targets of the WHO 2025 agenda are virtually zero. Global public health actions to change these trends are warranted.

Read also the comment by Monique Verschuren: "Number of adults with diabetes quadrupled over the past 35 years" on a related article in the Lancet.

The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology