Nearly 30% people in the world are overweight or obese

United States is home to the biggest chunk of obese population - 13 per cent, India and China together account for 15 per cent

By Vani Manocha
Published: Saturday 31 May 2014

The biggest obesity rise among women occurred in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Honduras and Bahrain (Vaibhav Raghunandan)

Considered to be one of the most comprehensive studies on obesity, a global report, published in The Lancet this week, noted that obesity crisis is quickly spreading to developing countries. The study that has offered a comparison of overweight and obesity rates globally from 1980 to 2013 has reported estimates for 188 countries.

While being overweight in adults refers to having a body mass index or BMI ≥25 to <30 kg/m2, those with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 are categorised as obese.

India third most overweight nation

The total number of overweight and obese people in the world rose from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013. More than 50 per cent of the 671 million obese individuals in the world live in 10 countries (listed in order of number of obese individuals): USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia. The United States is also home to the biggest chunk of the planet's obese population - 13 per cent.

Nations in West Asia, North Africa, Central America and the Pacific and Caribbean islands have reached staggeringly high obesity rates, the team at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle reported in the medical journal. The study, titled Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, has come days after a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that found the financial downturn contributed to worsening the obesity crisis in part by forcing people in harder-hit countries to choose cheaper, less healthy food.
The biggest obesity rise among women occurred in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Honduras and Bahrain. In the cause of men, the biggest increase was witnessed in New Zealand, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Although obesity prevalence increased over time, China and India had low rates of obesity in 2013. In India, 3•7 per cent of men and 4•2 per cent of women are obese.

The authors have noted that the study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, does rely heavily on self-reported height and weight data collected in health surveys across the countries.

Country Boys % (>20 years)  Men % (<20 years) Girls % (>20 years) Women % (<20 years)
USA  12·4 31.7  13·4 33·9 
China  6·9 3·8 2·8 5·0
India 2·3 3·7 2·5  4·2
Russia 7.3 15.3 6.6 28.5
Brazil 6.8 11.7 7.6 20.6
Mexico 10.5 20.6 9.8 32.7
Egypt 12.7 26.4 14.4 48.4
Germany 5.5 21.9 5.3 22.5
Pakistan 4.1 14.4 3.8 14.3
Indonesia 6 5.4 6 8.3

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