The Obesity Epidemic worldwide is constantly escalating

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In an article on ScienceNews.org, author McKenzie Prillaman speaks about how the Lancet recently published an analysis highlighting the concerning escalation of global obesity rates. The study, led by global health researcher Majid Ezzati and colleagues, involved an examination of over 3,600 population-based studies conducted across nearly 200 countries and territories, covering a participant pool of 222 million individuals. The results indicate that as of 2022, more than 1 billion people worldwide are grappling with obesity, constituting approximately one-eighth of the global population. This stark figure represents a significant uptick from the almost 800 million reported in 2016 by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Obesity, defined as the presence of excess body fat that adversely affects health, poses substantial risks such as an increased likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, susceptibility to diseases like COVID-19, and negative impacts on mental health and mobility. The study found that in 2022, nearly 900 million adults globally had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above, categorizing them as obese. Additionally, an estimated 160 million children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 were identified as having obesity based on BMI metrics derived from the WHO’s growth reference curves.

 

An alarming trend revealed by the analysis is the substantial increase in obesity rates from 1990 to 2022. During this period, obesity prevalence approximately doubled in women, tripled in men, and quadrupled in children and adolescents. Simultaneously, global rates of individuals being underweight saw a decline. Ezzati emphasizes the need to view underweight and obesity as interconnected issues due to the rapid transition between the two.

 

While there have been promising developments in anti-obesity medications like Wegovy, which have shown remarkable results, their high costs and limited incorporation into worldwide medical guidance pose accessibility challenges for the majority of people identifies a major driver behind the surge in obesity as limited access to and the unaffordability of healthy foods. Obesity expert Arya Sharma, not involved in the study, adds that broader societal-level lifestyle changes, including reduced sleep, increased stress levels, and less time spent at home, contribute to a shift towards consuming more processed foods and overeating.

 

In light of these findings, the study underscores the urgency for governments and societies to address the obesity epidemic through a combination of preventive measures and improved medical care. The complex interplay between biology and environmental changes, particularly in relation to appetite, emphasizes the multifaceted nature of combating this global health challenge.

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