Majority of global population set to be overweight by 2035

Majority of global population set to be overweight by 2035
Credit: Belga

Over half (51%) of the global population, or roughly 4 billion people, are set to become overweight or obese by 2035 if current trends prevail, according to research published by the World Obesity Federation on the eve of World Obesity Day. Nearly one in four people globally, or around 2 billion people, will become obese if nothing is done about the obesity epidemic.

The World Obesity Atlas 2023 outlines the economic, health, and social impact that obesity and poor diets are having on the global population.

Notably, the economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach $4.32 trillion annually 2035 if prevention and treatment measures do not improve. At 3% of global GDP, the issue will be as pressing to humanity as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This year’s Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future. It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents,” said professor Louise Baur, President of the World Obesity Federation.

Indeed, the health burden of obesity on children is growing. Childhood obesity could more than double by 2035. For boys, rates are predicted to increase by 100% to 208 million. For girls, rates are set to shoot up by 125% to 175 million. Rates are rising much faster for children than for adults. One in four children are now and six in ten adults in Belgium are now overweight. 

“If we do not act now, we are on course to see significant increases in obesity prevalence over the next decade. The greatest increases will be seen in low and lower-middle income countries, where scarce resources and lack of preparedness will create a perfect storm that will negatively impact people living with obesity the most,” said Rachel Jackson-Leach, Director of Science at the World Obesity Federation.

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The Federation is now calling on governments and international organisations to take concrete actions to tackle the obesity epidemic.

“Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation. That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity, and actively involving young people in the solutions. If we act together now, we have the opportunity to help billions of people in the future,” Baur concluded.

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