Obesity affects more than 1 billion people in the world

PARIS.- The obesity It affects more than 1 billion people in the world, estimated a study carried out in collaboration with the World Health Organization and published on Friday in the scientific journal The Lancet.

The report, published on the occasion of World Obesity Day on March 4, reveals that between 1990 and 2022 the incidence of this disease quadrupled among children and adolescents and has more than doubled among adults.

This “epidemic” has progressed “more rapidly than anticipated,” said Francesco Branca, director of the “Nutrition for Health and Development” department of the WHO.

In fact, the threshold of 1 billion people with obesity was not expected to be exceeded until 2030, said Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, one of the main authors of the study.

Obesity is on the rise

Based on a sample of 220 million people in more than 190 countries, the study estimates that almost 880 million adults were obese in 2022 (504 million women and 374 million men).

Since 1990, the obesity rate has nearly tripled among men (from 4.8% to 14%) and more than doubled among women (from 8.8% to 18.5%).

Even more worrying, the disease affected 160 million children and adolescents in 2022. 30 years ago, the figure was 31 million.

Obesity is a complex and multifactorial chronic disease that can cause increased mortality due to other pathologies such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or certain types of cancer.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, being overweight was a risk factor for those infected.

The authors of the study point out that obesity is no longer just “a problem in rich countries” as was previously thought, but “a global problem,” notes Francesco Branca.

This expert attributes this to a “rapid transformation, and not for the better, of food systems” in developing countries.

Low- and middle-income countries in the Caribbean, Middle East or North Africa now have higher obesity rates than many industrialized nations, especially in Europe.

In fact, obesity “shows signs of decline in some southern European countries, especially in women, with Spain and France as leading examples,” Ezzati said.

At the same time, in regions such as South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa the problem is low weight, which causes higher mortality in women or young children before and after childbirth and a higher risk of death from infectious diseases.