Research conducted by the World Obesity Federation predicts that over 4 billion people, 51% of the world, will be considered overweight and 1 in 4 people will be living with obesity in the next 12 years.
Prof. Louise Baur, President of the World Obesity Federation, said we will face “repercussions in the future” if challenges are not dealt with now.
Currently, 38% of the world’s population have a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 and are considered overweight. Those with a BMI of 30 or above are considered to be obese.
The new statistics are causing great concern as obesity can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other life-threatening illnesses.
The World Obesity Federation is calling for robust national action plans imposing restrictions on unhealthy foods. These include front-of-pack labelling, restricted advertising as well as increased taxation on foods high in fat, salt, and sugar.
Research shows that rates are particularly alarming among children and in low-income countries.
The report highlighted that rates in children are increasing faster than in adults. Rates are expected to rise by 100% in boys under 18 and 125% in girls by 2035.
Prof. Baur calls for countries to “do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation” by including children in the solution.
Developing countries are especially at risk of increasing obesity rates. 9 out of the 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity are low or lower-middle-income countries.
These countries in particular are often unable to respond to obesity and its many consequences as “scarce resources and lack of preparedness will create a perfect storm”
Here in Ireland, the obesity rate has also been a growing concern in recent years. In 2019, 60% of the Irish population was categorised as overweight while 23% were categorised as obese.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ireland is set to become the most overweight population in Europe by 2030.
All ten of the most prepared countries to deal with the increasing obesity rate are high-income European countries, with Ireland ranking ninth. Niger, Papua New Guinea, and Somalia are the least prepared.
The World Obesity Federation also estimates that the global cost of obesity will rise to $4.32tr by 2035, 3% of global GDP. This sum rivals the economic cost of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image Credit: Getty Images