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51 percent of world population may be overweight or obese by 2035

More than half the world’s population age 5 and older - 51 percent, or more than 4 billion people - are projected to be overweight or obese by 2035, according to a report from the World Obesity Federation.

Linda Searing, The Washington Post, Mar 20, 2023

By comparison, 2.6 billion people worldwide (38 percent of the population) were overweight or obese in 2020. Obesity alone is expected to rise from 14 percent in 2020 to 24 percent, or nearly 2 billion people, by 2035.

The steepest increase is expected among youths ages 5 to 19, with the predicted obesity rate among boys doubling from 10 to 20 percent and more than doubling among girls, rising from 8 to 18 percent.

The numbers representing overweight and obesity are based on people’s body mass index (BMI), with a BMI over 25 considered overweight and a score over 30 considered obese.

Dubbed the World Obesity Atlas 2023 and presented to the United Nations, the report cites data for geographical regions around the globe as well as the expected economic effect of overweight and obesity, including health-care costs. It urges countries to develop comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and to support those who have it.

If prevention, treatment and support do not improve, the report notes, the economic effect will reach more than $4 trillion a year by 2035, which it says would be comparable to the economic harm of the coronavirus in 2020.

Obesity - in essence, weighing more than what is considered healthy for a given height and having an excessive amount of body fat - can increase health risks for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and more. It also has been linked to mental health problems and a lesser quality of life. In the United States, about 58 percent of adults will be obese by 2035, according to the report’s projected trends.

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