More than one in ten men and one in seven women across the globe are now obese, finds a large scale study led by Imperial College London. With 266 million obese men and 375 million obese women in the world in 2014, it reveals global obesity is at a crisis point, having tripled in men and doubled among women in four decades from 1975.
The study, published in The Lancet, found obese men make up 10.8% and obese women make up 14.9% of their genders. In addition, 2.3% of the world's men, and 5% of the world's women are 'severely obese' and 55 million adults are 'morbidly obese', with their weight interfering with basic physical functions such as breathing and walking.
Going by present trends, by 2025 18% of the world's men and 21% of women will be obese, the study predicts.
Warning that the obesity epidemic was far too serious to be tackled by medications alone, the study authors called for initiatives to make healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables affordable for everyone, while increasing the price of unhealthy processed foods.
Professor Majid Ezzati, the senior author of the study from the School of Public Health at Imperial, said: "The number of people across the globe whose weight poses a serious threat to their health is greater than ever before. And this epidemic of severe obesity is too extensive to be tackled with medications such as blood pressure lowering drugs or diabetes treatments alone, or with a few extra bike lanes. We need coordinated global initiatives – such as looking at the price of healthy food compared to unhealthy food, or taxing high sugar and highly processed foods - to tackle this crisis."
The research involved the World Health Organization and over 700 researchers across the globe, and used measurements of weight and height from nearly 20 million adults across the globe to compile their BMI. The US and China turn out to be most obese.
On the contrary, numbers of underweight people have gone down, but it was still quite high in countries such as India and Bangladesh, where nearly a quarter of adults are underweight.