More than a billion humans affected by obesity, more and more beyond rich countries

More than a billion humans affected by obesity, more and more beyond rich countries

Obesity now affects more than a billion people worldwide, including children and adolescents, according to an estimate published a few days before World Obesity Day on March 4, which shows an acceleration of the scourge in low- and middle-income countries.

Between 1990 and 2022, the rate of obesity in the population quadrupled among children and adolescents and doubled among adults, indicates this large study published in the British medical journal The Lancet and carried out in collaboration with the World Health Organization. health (WHO).

This “epidemic” has progressed”faster than expected“, noted Professor Francesco Branca, director of the “Nutrition for health and development” department of the WHO, during a press conference. Crossing the threshold of one billion people concerned was initially envisaged around 2030, according to Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, one of the lead authors of the study.

Based on data from around 220 million people in more than 190 countries, this work suggests that almost 880 million adults were living with obesity in 2022 (504 million women and 374 million men). In 1990, there were 195 million.

Since 1990, the obesity rate has almost tripled among men (from 4.8% in 1990 to 14% in 2022) and more than doubled among women (from 8.8% to 18.5%), with disparities between countries.

Even more worrying, in 2022 this disease affected nearly 160 million children and adolescents (94 million boys and 65 million girls). Some 30 years earlier, there were 31 million.

“World problem”

Obesity, a complex and multifactorial chronic disease, is accompanied by an increase in mortality due to other pathologies, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain cancers. The Covid-19 pandemic, where being overweight was a risk factor, was an illustration of this.

Another lesson: certain low- or middle-income countries, notably in Polynesia and Micronesia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, now display obesity rates higher than those of many industrialized countries, particularly in Europe , according to the study.

In the past we tended to view obesity as a problem of rich countries, now it is a global problem“, remarks Francesco Branca. He sees in particular the effect of a “rapid transformation, and not for the better, of food systems in low- and middle-income countries“.

Conversely, obesity shows “signs of decline in some southern European countries, especially for women, Spain and Europe being notable examples“, said Majid Ezzati.

From now on, “in most countries, more people are affected by obesity than by underweight” (also called underweight), which has decreased since 1990, points out the study.

However, underweight remains a major problem in certain regions of the world, such as South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. It is linked to increased mortality in women and very young children before and after childbirth, or a higher risk of death from infectious diseases.

NO to diets, YES to WW!

“Double burden”

Not eating enough, but also eating poorly: many low- and middle-income countries are experiencing the “double burden” of undernutrition and obesity. A part of their population still does not have access to a sufficient number of calories, another no longer has this problem but their diet is of poor quality.

This new study highlights the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early in life and into adulthood, through diet, physical activity and care. adequate to the needs“, underlines Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, in a press release.

He calls for “cooperation from the private sector, which must be responsible for the impact of its products on health“.

For the WHO, beneficial actions are insufficiently applied: taxing sugary drinks, subsidizing healthy foods, limiting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, encouraging physical activity, etc.

The management of obesity has entered a new era for several months: treatments for diabetes also act against this pathology, arousing the appetite of pharmaceutical groups and nourishing the hopes of millions of patients.

These drugs are an important tool, but not a solution to obesity and prevention., judged Francesco Branca. “It is important to look at the long term or side effects of these medications“, at-il having you.