Two Billion People Overweight or Obese

Rhonda Stewart Senior Communications Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation  Seattle, WA 98121, Interview with:
Rhonda Stewart
Senior Communications
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Seattle, WA 98121, USA

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: Globally, obesity has become a public health epidemic. Obesity is affecting not just developed countries, but developing countries as well. Almost one-third of the world’s population, over 2 billion people, are considered to be overweight or obese. Of this group, nearly two-thirds (62%) are in developing countries. If current trends continue, this number will continue to rise. Between 1980 and 2013, the prevalence of overweight or obesity for children and adolescents increased by nearly 50%. This study is the first analysis of global trends on obesity and covers more than 30 years and 188 countries.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: It was especially troubling to see that no country has successfully decreased obesity rates over the last 33 years. One small bright spot: we have seen slower growth rates of overweight and obesity trends in developed countries. More than 50% of the world’s obese population lives in 10 countries; the United States has the most obese people, followed by China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia. This is not entirely due to population size, as the disease burden of overweight and obese populations does not correlate to the general country population. The US alone accounts for 13% of the world’s obese population but only 5% of the total world population. Several countries in the Middle East showed the largest increase in obesity rates over the 33-year period of research, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: Worldwide, over 2 billion people are overweight or obese. It is increasingly evident that our current methods to address overweight and obesity are ineffective. With increases in obesity come increased health problems, such as chronic kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes. The sharp increase in rates of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents is an indicator of our lack of progress. In order to create healthier future generations, we need to address these troubling results.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: We hope that policymakers and agenda-setters will use this information to better improve current health interventions and create specific targets for combating this issue. Studies of local patterns of obesity are needed to generate solutions that can be tailored to communities. Obesity may be a global problem, but it needs to be approached locally, starting with researching how to create strategies that can address the complexity of cultural traditions and dietary norms across the world.


Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013
Marie Ng PhD,Tom Fleming BS,Margaret Robinson BA,Blake Thomson BA,Nicholas Graetz BS,Christopher Margono BS,Erin C Mullany BA,Stan Biryukov BS,Cristiana Abbafati PhD,Semaw Ferede Abera MA,Jerry P Abraham MPH,Niveen M E Abu-Rmeileh PhD,Tom Achoki PhD,Fadia S AlBuhairan MBBS,Zewdie A Alemu MPH,Rafael Alfonso MD,Mohammed K Ali MBChB,Raghib Ali MSc,Prof Nelson Alvis Guzman PhD,Prof Walid Ammar PhD,Palwasha Anwari MD,Amitava Banerjee DPhil,Simon Barquera PhD,Sanjay Basu PhD,Derrick A Bennett PhD,Prof Zulfiqar Bhutta PhD,Jed Blore PhD,Prof Norberto Cabral PhD,Ismael Campos Nonato PhD,Jung-Chen Chang PhD,Rajiv Chowdhury MD,Karen J Courville MD,Prof Michael H Criqui MD,David K Cundiff MD,Kaustubh C Dabhadkar MBBS,Prof Lalit Dandona MD,Prof Adrian Davis PhD,Anand Dayama MD,Samath D Dharmaratne MD,Eric L Ding ScD,Adnan M Durrani MD,Prof Alireza Esteghamati MD,Farshad Farzadfar MD,Derek F J Fay MSc,Prof Valery L Feigin PhD,Abraham Flaxman PhD,Mohammad H Forouzanfar PhD,Atsushi Goto PhD,Mark A Green MSc,Rajeev Gupta PhD,Nima Hafezi-Nejad MD,Prof Graeme J Hankey MD,Heather C Harewood MPH,Rasmus Havmoeller PhD,Prof Simon Hay DPhil,Lucia Hernandez MS,Abdullatif Husseini PhD,Bulat T Idrisov MD,Nayu Ikeda PhD,Farhad Islami PhD,Eiman Jahangir MD,Simerjot K Jassal MD,Prof Sun Ha Jee PhD,Mona Jeffreys PhD,Prof Jost B Jonas MD,Edmond K Kabagambe PhD,Shams Eldin Ali Hassan Khalifa MSc,Andre Pascal Kengne PhD,Prof Yousef Saleh Khader ScD,Prof Young-Ho Khang PhD,Daniel Kim DrPH,Ruth W Kimokoti MD,Jonas M Kinge PhD,Yoshihiro Kokubo PhD,Soewarta Kosen MD,Gene Kwan MD,Taavi Lai PhD,Mall Leinsalu PhD,Yichong Li MPH,Xiaofeng Liang MD,Shiwei Liu PhD,Giancarlo Logroscino PhD,Prof Paulo A Lotufo DrPH,Yuan Lu MSc,Jixiang Ma PhD,Nana Kwaku Mainoo MMRCB,George A Mensah MD,Tony R Merriman PhD,Ali H Mokdad PhD,Joanna Moschandreas PhD,Mohsen Naghavi PhD,Aliya Naheed PhD,Devina Nand MPH,Prof K M Venkat Narayan MD,Erica Leigh Nelson MLIS,Marian L Neuhouser PhD,Muhammad Imran Nisar MSc,Prof Takayoshi Ohkubo MD,Samuel O Oti MSc,Andrea Pedroza MS,Prof Dorairaj Prabhakaran MD,Prof Nobhojit Roy MD,Uchechukwu Sampson MD,Hyeyoung Seo MPH,Sadaf G Sepanlou MD,Kenji Shibuya PhD,Rahman Shiri PhD,Ivy Shiue PhD,Gitanjali M Singh PhD,Jasvinder A Singh MD,Prof Vegard Skirbekk PhD,Nicolas J C Stapelberg MBBS,Lela Sturua PhD,Bryan L Sykes PhD,Martin Tobias PhD,Bach X Tran PhD,Leonardo Trasande MD,Prof Hideaki Toyoshima MD,Steven van de Vijver MD,Prof Tommi J Vasankari PhD,J Lennert Veerman MD,Prof Gustavo Velasquez-Melendez PhD,Prof Vasiliy Victorovich Vlassov MD,Prof Stein Emil Vollset PhD,Theo Vos PhD,Claire Wang MD,Sharon XiaoRong Wang PhD,Prof Elisabete Weiderpass PhD,Andrea Werdecker Dipl.oec.troph,Jonathan L Wright MD,Y Claire Yang PhD,Prof Hiroshi Yatsuya PhD,Jihyun Yoon MPH,Prof Seok-Jun Yoon PhD,Yong Zhao MD,Maigeng Zhou PhD,Prof Shankuan Zhu PhD,Prof Alan D Lopez PhD,Prof Christopher J L Murray PhD,Prof Emmanuela Gakidou PhD
The Lancet – 29 May 2014
DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60460-8




Last Updated on June 1, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD