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Health Risk: Over 1 billion People Classified As Obese, Study Reveals

A recent report from The Lancet reveals a startling statistic that more than a billion people worldwide are now classified as obese, posing significant health risks.

According to The Lancet’s official website on Sunday, the study highlighted a concerning trend, with obesity rates among adults more than doubling since 1990 and quadrupling among children and adolescents aged five to 19.

Recall that the World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, affecting individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25.

Alarmingly, obesity has surpassed underweight as a prevalent issue, even in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2019, an estimated five million deaths were attributed to higher-than-optimal BMI, underlining the severity of the global obesity crisis.

The report indicates that nearly 880 million adults and 159 million children lived with obesity in 2022, with 43 per cent of adults being overweight.

Conducted by over 1,500 researchers from the Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factor Collaboration and the WHO, the study draws on data from over 220 million individuals across 190 countries, making it one of the most comprehensive assessments to date.

Recommendations from the study underlines the importance of early intervention, promoting healthy practices from infancy, and regulating the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages, particularly targeting children.

Comprehensive school food and nutrition policies were also advocated for, along with measures to control access to high-fat, sugary, and salty products near schools.

Prof. Majid Ezzati, Imperial College, London, a senior author of the study, highlighted the dual challenge of rising obesity rates alongside persistent undernutrition, particularly in vulnerable populations.

Ezzati stressed the need for concerted efforts to address both ends of the malnutrition spectrum.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, emphasised the importance of prevention and management of obesity across lifespan.

Ghebreyesus urged collaboration across sectors and accountability from the private sector.

Mrs Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Nutrition and Food Safety Department, underscored the challenges in implementing effective policies to address obesity, underlining the need for affordable access to healthy diets and environments conducive to physical activity.

Branca said that the report served as a wake-up call, urging immediate action to stem the tide of rising obesity rates globally.


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