More than one in 10 people worldwide are now obese, with weight-related health problems claiming millions of lives every year, according to a major new global study released on Monday.
Conducted in 195 countries over a 35-year period, the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at a conference in Stockholm is billed as the most comprehensive research to date on the subject.
Obesity numbers more than doubled in 73 countries since the study launch in 1980, triggering a surge in related diseases in what the study authors described as “a growing and disturbing global public health crisis.”
In 2015, 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults worldwide were obese.
Even though the obesity rate in children remained lower than among adults, it had grown at a faster rate during the 35-year study period, the report said.
Four million deaths in 2015 were linked to having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 24.5, indicating a person is overweight, or of 30 or more, indicating obesity. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in centimeters squared.
Of those deaths, more than 40 percent involved people deemed non-obese — indicating that being overweight, even without being obese, is leading to millions of premature deaths.
More than two-thirds of deaths linked to a raised BMI were attributed to cardiovascular diseases, marking a sharp increase since 1990.
“People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk — risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, one of the authors of the study.
“Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain,” he said.
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