A wide-scale study has revealed that nearly a third of the world’s population suffers from obesity and that an increasing number of people are dying of weight-related diseases.
Excess weight affected 2.2 billion people, equal to 30 percent of the world’s population in 2015, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday.
The findings of the research study, conducted in 195 countries over a 35-year period, also indicated that some 4 million people had lost their lives in the same year due to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other ailments linked to obesity and excess weight.
The research conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington discovered that almost 108 million children and more than 600 million adults weighed in as obese, having a body mass index (BMI) above 30 and a death rate of more than 60 percent.
BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared, and is an indication of whether a person is a healthy weight. A BMI score over 25 is overweight, over 30 is obese and over 40 is morbidly obese.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also says obesity has more than doubled in 73 countries since 1980, reaching epidemic proportions in what was described as “a growing and disturbing global public health crisis.”
Experts say poor diets and sedentary lifestyles were mainly to blame for increasing numbers of overweight people. Urbanization and economic development have also culminated in a growth in obesity rates in poor countries, where part of the population lacks enough to eat, as people ditch traditional, vegetable-rich diets for processed foods.
“People are consuming more and more processed foods that are high in sugar and fat and exercising less,” said Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, senior nutrition officer at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
However, almost 800 million people, including 300 million children, go to bed hungry each night, according to the UN.