About one in five people worldwide will be obese by 2025, according to a study in the Lancet earlier this year. Using height and weight data from more than 19 million adults in 186 countries, the Imperial College London researchers calculated that there were 641 million obese people in 2014, up from 105 million in 1975, with the rate more than doubling in women (from about 6 to 15 percent) and more than tripling in men (from about 3 to 11 percent) over those 40 years.
That corresponds to a gain of more than three pounds per decade across the globe, though wide variations in obesity rates were seen between regions.
If these trends continue, about 18 percent of men and 21 percent of women will become obese over the next 10 or so years, the researchers predicted. Meanwhile, the prevalence of underweight people decreased significantly between 1975 and 2014, and already, for the first time in history, there are more overweight people than underweight people in the world.
Of concern is that the continued rise in obesity will likely have the largest effect on mortality rates in poorer countries, where drugs and treatments to manage hypertension, diabetes, and other obesity-related conditions are more limited—though even these resources may not be enough to tackle the adverse effects of growing obesity in wealthier countries.
Also see What’s Behind the Obesity Epidemic.